Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Why...did I change the name of my website/blog to LeDom du Vin?

Hi everybody,

Some people may wonder why I changed my blog's name? Well, here is the answer.

For the better, I just changed the name of my blog/website from www.wineandcolors.com to (logically) www.ledomduvin.com

First, because it sounds better and more people know this blog (and me) as "LeDom" (du Vin).

Secondly, because it sounds a bit more French and people find a certain originality to it.

After all, why not? It is a blog with a French name, about wine and food and other goodies in Life (and people love French food and wine and life style to a certain extend). Written in English by a French guy, naturalized American (and living in one of the most cosmopolitan town in the world: New York), it was, somewhat, natural and logical for me to bring both culture together.

Finally, it is also a bit sentimental and nostalgic. More than 17 years ago, before I started to work in restaurant and gradually entered the wine business, people already knew me as "Dom" or "LeDom".

I trained and worked in many places in France, like Paris, Orleans, Bourges, Strasbourg, and more especially Bordeaux (where I'm from and where I spent most of my time until the age of 24 years old), and the name of "Dom" followed me everywhere.

When I moved from Bordeaux to England as a Sommelier, 13 years ago, I met a guy at work who became one of my closest friends for years and used to called me "LeDom". The name sticked to me since then, and from Dominique or Dom, my name became quickly "LeDom".

People may think that it refers to "le Domaine du Vin" (Wine's Domaine) or "Le Dome du vin" (The wine Dome), it could and it might be (I quite like the thought of it...), but in fact... there is a more behind it...

"LeDom du Vin" more especially refers to the fact that as a young Sommelier in London, on Sunday (most Sundays should I say), when I wasn't working, I was meeting with other Sommeliers and wine lovers, friends of mine, to have long lunches with a lot of food, and more especially a lot of wines (everybody was bringing at least one or two bottles each to taste that day, and we were at least 4 or 5 people minimum meeting nearly every other week-end).

However, great food eater but not-necessarily-great-enough cook for my friends' taste, I was often assigned to organize, open, decant and serve the different aperitifs, champagnes, wines, liquors and digestives (which anyway, as Sommelier, was a perfect fit for me). And very often during these lunches, when certain persons were finished with their wine, they used to say: "LeDom, du Vin!!!", which literally translates to: "LeDom, more wine!!!"

So for me, for them, for you that are reading this blog and with nostalgia for all the good memories that these words bring to me, this blog will, from now on, be called "LeDom du Vin".

Some of you may have had some difficulties to read my blog over the last few days, however, Blogger.com should soon redirect all of the posts from www.wineandcolors.blogspot.com and www.wineandcolors.com to my new blog's name: www.ledomduvin.com

Thank you for all your support since I began last August and thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I'm open to all comments, so feel free to let me know what you think about my blog and about the posts in general.

Thank you again,

See you soon for more articles and posts about wine, food, culture and life in general.


LeDom du Vin

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

2000 CVNE "Contino" Reserva Rioja Spain

CONTINO Laserna winery plaque by ©LeDomduVin 2009
CONTINO Laserna winery plaque
by ©LeDomduVin 2009

2000 CVNE "Contino" Reserva Rioja Spain

Suggested retail price $41-45
Distributed by Southern Wine & Spirits in NYC

CVNE produces many different Rioja wines from the more classical Rioja style to the heavier, riper, oaky(er) new world style. However, even for the riper style, their wines remain balanced, juicy, earthy and true to their Terroir.

Contino is one of the prestige cuvées of CVNE, along with their renown "Cuvée Impérial" (more Bordeaux style) and Vina Real (earthier, more Burgundian style). 

CONTINO was established in 1973, in a separate estate (from the main CVNE winery) in Laserna, Rioja Alavesa, a few miles from Laguardia. (FYI: CVNE is located in Haro and Vina Real is nestled on the top of a hill overlooking Logroño, called "Cerro de la Mesa").

Contino is, somewhat, a single-vineyard plot of a bit more than 60 hectares of vines, surrounding a beautiful several century-old Spanish farmhouses. It produces a "Reserva" and "Gran Reserva" (only in very good years), a unique wine made from the unusual varietal Graciano (usually blended with Tempranillo) and the incredibly satisfying "Vina del Olivo" coming from a small parcel planted right in front of the farm, easily recognizable with its very old Olive tree in the middle.

CONTINO Vina del Olivo with the Old Olive tree 
by ©LeDomduVin 2009

The Ebro river curls around the vineyard, forming like a horseshoe-shaped platform gradually expanding and descending from the estate to the river. Protected by surrounding hills and contrasted by the Ebro River, this very particular location, like a "bassin valley, creates an ideal micro-climate protecting and offering some of the best conditions to grow great vines: the vines exposed to the south take a maximum of light from morning to night; the gentle slope descending to the river has natural, perfect drainage; the air remains fresh and moist because of the river proximity (also protecting the vines during winter), the soil is rarely dry even during the extremely hot summer months, allowing a good acidity and freshness in the wines (especially important since 2000, in this decade of moody weather across the globe with extreme temperatures).

I can proudly say that I met and know Jesus Madrazo, the son of Jose Madrazo who bought the property in 1973 in the sole aim to produce high-quality wine from a single vineyard, bottled at the estate, in the league of the best Chateaux from Bordeaux. Following his father's step with even more conviction, Jesus is a great guy, funny, generous and passionate about wine and winemaking. He nurtures his vines and wines like his own kids, taking the time to experiment, comprehend, taste and improve a bit more every year to achieve the highest possible quality wine he can make.

Jesus Madrazo with bottles at CONTINO by ©LeDomduVin 2009
Jesus Madrazo with bottles at CONTINO
by ©LeDomduVin 2009

Over my last 17 years of wine tasting and wine buying experience, many producers told me that "a wine often reflects the character and the personality of the winemaker behind it", well, it is definitely true for Jesus Madrazo, his bonhomie, "bon vivant", as well as its generous, attentive and gentle attitude are evidently reflected in his wines.

I went there to taste the new vintage at the barrel, the current vintage and older bottlings, 5 years in a row between 2003 and 2007. Every time, it was a delight to be there and Jesus knows how to welcome his guests. The last time, in September 2007, my wife, my son and I were eating with him in the garden facing the "Vina del Olivo". We tasted samples of the promising 2004 vintage Reserva, and the barely finished 2006 vintage at the barrel. 

With the lunch, we tasted 2001 Contino Reserva, 2004 "Vina del Olivo" (fantastic, one of my favourite higher-end Riojas in this vintage) and 2005 "Graciano" (a really pleasant surprise and a must-have for wine connoisseurs) served with some Pata Negra Ham and other Spanish specialities. It was a lovely sunny day and a memorable moment. I'm looking forward to my next visit but I'm under the impression that Jesus is no longer working there no more (unless someone can correct me on that).

CONTINO 2004 "Vina del Olivo" and 2005 "Graciano" at CONTINO by ©LeDomduVin 2009
CONTINO 2004 "Vina del Olivo" and 2005 "Graciano"
at CONTINO by ©LeDomduVin 2009

However, I used to sell the last 4 or 5 vintages in the previous store where I used to work, but I didn't have any in the current one. So I decided to buy the currently available vintage of their Reserva and I'm really pleased with it. I bought it because I love the wines from Contino but also for all the good memories that come with it for me.

CONTINO Reserva Label ©LeDomduVin 2009
CONTINO Reserva Label
©LeDomduVin 2009

2000 Contino Reserva is a riper, more concentrated style of Rioja, compare to some of its siblings like "Vina Real" or even "Imperial". 

Due to its richness and long oak ageing process, the wine normally takes quite a few years to settle down, be ready and offer its best expression. However, 2000 being less concentrated and less ripe than recent vintages like 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2007, now is a good time to start enjoying it.

The colour is quite dark and intense. The nose mixes aromas of ripe red cherry and blackberry intermingled with oak, spice, mocha and leather. The palate is smooth, balanced and quite generous despite the bit of age and the vintage. It displays even more red and blackberry flavours, with mocha, minerals, earthy hints and present yet integrated harmonious oak notes. 

The finish, which possesses this dry, oaky earthiness proper to Riojas that I love, is fairly long and really inviting. It revealed most of its complex layers after about 20-30 minutes of decanting. Very nice now, it will still evolve and integrate for a few years, in my opinion, it will keep most of its fruit for the next 3-5 years and should keep for a little while after that.

Pair it with a nice, juicy grilled T-bone steak on Sarments with shallots "emincées" and a dice of melted garlic butter on top, served with a casserole of Pleurottes "sautées à l'ail"...(Is it lunch or dinner time, yet?)

I dedicate this little post to Jesus Madrazo (wherever you are now) and his wines, for his warm welcome each time I came to the estate (especially when I came with my little family) and allowing me (us) to taste with him and share a bit of his time, seating in the garden of this magnificent property and drinking fabulous wines. Gracias Jesus! (for you and for your wines).


LeDom du Vin (a.k.a. Dominique Noël)

For more info about the winery go to www.CVNE.com, or simply google it, many articles have been written on the subject.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

2007 Valle Dell'Acate "Il Frappato" Vittoria Frappato Sicilia

2007 Valle Dell'Acate "Il Frappato" Vittoria Frappato Sicilia
Suggested retail price $17-$24
Distributed by Polaner Selections in NYC

The Sicilian winery of Valle dell’Acate has a long history amongst the top estates in Sicily, as the Jacono family can trace back their winemaking roots here to the nineteenth century.

It is located in the southeastern corner of Sicily, on the elegant Bidini Manor in the hills of the Dirillo Valley.

The estate comprises over one hundred hectares of land, both for grapevines as well as Sicily’s famous blood oranges.

Under the direction of the current head of the family winery, Gaetana Jacono, many of the vineyards have been replanted to the great traditional grapes of Sicily which are farmed organically.

The estate produces one of the finest examples of Cerasuolo di Vittoria, traditionally Sicily’s greatest wine. Cerasuolo di Vittoria was the first red wine in all of Sicily to achieve DOCG status, and to this day it continues to be one of Sicily’s greatest reds. Valle dell’Acate also makes a great many IGT bottlings from their well-tended vineyards, including Il Nero, Zagra, Il Frappato and Tané. All of the bottlings from Valle dell’Acate must be ranked amongst Sicily’s finest.

This wine was produced entirely from Frappato grapes from Eastern Sicily. It was aged 6 months in steel tanks, then 3 months in bottle.

2007 Valle dell'Acate "Il Frappato" has a very clear robe and light hue. It boasts aromas of wild red and dark berries mix with floral, spicy notes on the nose. The palate offers ripe cherry and black berry fruit flavors with floral, earthy, spicy, slightly smoky notes. Light to medium bodied, with good juicy fruit in the mid-palate, this quite nice, somewhat, rustic wine has a great acidity and a fresh high tone red fruit attitude. It will make a perfect summer wine to have with appetizers. You could even chill it a bit.


LeDom du Vin

Info partly taken from www.polanerselections.com ,

for more info about this winery go to www.valledellacate.net

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FYI: I just changed the name of my website/blog from www.wineandcolors.com to logically www.ledomduvin.com

2008 Pinord "La Nansa" Vino de Aguja Penedes Spain

2008 Bodegas Pinord "La Nansa" Vino de Aguja Rose Penedes Spain
Suggested retail price $8-$12
Distributed by Vinaio in NYC

FYI: "La Nansa" means "fish net" which explains the sort of "hamac" or "fish net" on the label. And "Vino de Aguja" litterally means "wine of needle" referring to the small size of the bubbles. This is the reason why this wine can also found under "Pearl wines", also referring to the pearling sensation in the palate.

Made from 60% Grenache and 40% Merlot, this rose wine has been produced following a second fermentation in an isobaric tank. Thus the bubbles in this "pearl wine" with a pressure of approximately 2 bar.

Bright red color, slightly bubbling, this wine is light, with a fruity mouthfill. Pleasant red berry, raspberry and strawberry flavors pretty much defined this fun, uncomplicated summery wine. No added sugar, it doesn't taste sweet but slight fruity. Fresh and simple, easy to drink, it will be good for picnic.

For more info about this winery, go to www.Pinord.es


LeDom du Vin

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Read more of my notes at www.ledomduvin.com

1999 Azienda Agricola Trinchero Barnera d'Asti "Vigna del Noce" Piedmont Italy

1999 Azienda Agricola Trinchero Barnera d'Asti "Vigna del Noce" Piedmont Italy
Suggested retail price $34-$37
Distributed by Polaner Selections in NYC

Yesterday, before leaving the store, I had the enjoyable pleasure to taste a great 1999 Barbera d'Asti from Trinchero (not to be mistaken with Trinchero winery in Napa Valley).

Great nose, very attractive and expressive, with aromas of ripe dark cherry, figs, truffle, mushroom, animal, forest floor, somewhat old prune liquor, leather, stony minerality, and hints of smoke and tar. The palate is very polished, earthy, juicy, with layers of the same type of flavors with more smokey, earthy tones intermingled with dark berry and spice accents. Following the juicy attack and the expanding mid-palate, the long finish possesses dark, earthy, dry tannins and more smoke, mineral, earthy and animal attitude. Very enjoyable wine. Lovely venison, wild boar, forest animal will pair fantastically with this wine.

Find more info about this winery at www.polanerSelections.com


LeDom du Vin

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Read more of my notes at www.ledomduvin.com

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Marques de Vitoria: an underrated traditional Rioja's winery

Marques de Vitoria: an underrated traditional Rioja's winery

Along with some of my favorites old school, traditional Rioja's wineries - like La Rioja Alta (Vina Ardanza), Lopez de Heredia (Vina Bosconia and Tondonia), Bodegas Riojanas (Gran Albina), CVNE (Vina Real), Marques de Murrieta (Castillo Ygay), Marques de riscal (Reserva and Gran Reserva) -, Marques de Vitoria is also an old school, traditional Rioja's winery. You don't really hear from it because it is very often underated by the prees and overlooked by most Spanish wine lovers.

However, I think that people should pay a bit more attention to this winery. I used to sell the 2002 Crianza which was a bit light, tannic and restraint but overall smooth, balanced and traditional in style, and, in my opinion, quite good for a 2002 vintage (which wasn't a great vintage for Rioja).

I just tasted their 2004 Crianza and 1996 Gran Reserva (that I carry since last year), and loved them both. Here is what I thought about them:

2004 Marques de Vitoria Crianza Rioja Spain
Suggested retail price $11-$14
Distributed by Vinaio Imports in NYC

Clear, medium intensity, ripe dark berry color. Lovely, very expressive nose boasting aromas of red cherry, floral, spices, slight touch of vanilla-oak, mineral, earthy notes of dirt, liquorice, clove and bitter chocolate. Not as attractive on the palate as on the nose, this wine get better with a bit of swirl in the glass, and really start to open up after a few minutes in the glass. A bit light and not as generous as the nose, at first, the palate started to express itself nicely with a bit of time. It has the same type of flavors in the palate. And despite a touch of dry tannins on the finish, I will say that this wine reveals more of this old school elegance and dryer, earthy finish, rather than the heavily overripe and oaky style from the new world oriented other wineries. Somewhat light and simple but well made for the price; the 2004 vintage surely helped a lot too, to add structure and depth.

1996 Marques de Vitoria Gran Reserva Rioja Spain
Suggested retail price $24-$28
Distributed by Vinaio Imports in NYC

Definitely a classic Rioja! it has an interesting of attracting the surrounding light. Clear, clean, medium(+) intensity for the color, especially for a wine of this age, with old brique orange reflects on the rime and dark ripe berry, dark red-brownish autumn leaf color. The nose exposes interesting notes of dark ripe cherry, pig skin (and fat), leather, forest floor, touch of mushroom and ripe figs, with integrated oaky hints. Already in the attack, it is soft, juicy, with layers of flavors like red ripe berry, figs, liquorice, leather, spice, cloves. Long, balanced, super integrated finish with earthy, dry yet juicy tannin, and a touch of spice. Lovely.


LeDom du Vin

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

1996 Luigi Pira Barolo "Margheria" Piedmont Italy

1996 Luigi Pira Barolo "Margheria" Piedmont Italy
Suggested retail price $75-$80 (seen at $110)
Distributed by Michael Skurnik Wines in NYC

Despite the fact that Robert Parker Jr. said: "One of Piedmont’s new superstars...", Luigi Pira is, for me, one of the great classic of Barolo's producers.Probably because it was established in the early 1950s, even if at first the estate only produced and sold grapes.

Therefore and although, they were not bottling their own wines, vinegrowing and winemaking were the two passion of this family own winery; which, somewhat, makes me feel that, even if fairly new as Barolo producer (since the early 90s), they produce complex, structured classic Barolos that have nothing in common with the jaminess of certain new Barolo's producers. But I need to admit, I'm in love with this winery and I really enjoyed most of their 2001s and 2004s Barolos, and found them more balanced and focus than other few New world oriented Barolo producers. (I'm looking forward to taste their 2007s).

However, let's get back to the winery. Later on, wine was produced at winery and then sold in bulk to local negociants. It is only since a few years ago that the estate started ageing and bottling its own wines.

Giampaolo Pira recently took the reins at his family’s eight-hectare estate, overseeing the cellars while brother Romolo and father Luigi maintain the vineyards.

Pira’s holdings are in the three most prestigious crus in the Serralunga commune: “Margheria,” “Marenca," and “Rionda.”

The first Barolo was produced only as recently as 1993, but since then, the family has racked up accolades and high scores from the worldwide press. Of the two Barolos that have been produced up until now, the “Margheria” (aged 30% in barrique) is more structured and full-bodied, while the “Marenca” (aged 50% in barrique) is beautifully sumptuous and rich at a young age but will develop over the next 10-15 years – it was called “flawless” by the Gambero Rosso.

Their opaque Dolcetto is one of the most intense and complex of all skurnik's Barolo-producing estates, featuring the telltale fine tannins of Serralunga and astonishing length, while their oak-aged Barbera is both fruity and powerful.

The 1996 Luigi Pira Barolo "Margheria" is a great classic of their debut. The robe of the wine is quite dark for its age and especially for a 96 vintage. It has some orange taint reflects in the rime, normal for this type of wine. The nose has great ripe red cherry and tertiary aromas, like forest floor, mushroom, black truffles, pencil shave, spice, earth and minerals. The palate follows with the same type of flavors. It is very focus, clean, with a vivid acidity and very good tannic structure. The oak tannins are very integrated and smooth. The finish is long, lush and bright in the same time with layers of earthy notes and mineral. Love it.


LeDom du Vin

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Most info taken from www.skurnikwines.com

Find more of my notes about wine, food and life in general at www.ledomduvin.com

Saturday, March 21, 2009

2004 Can Blau Reserva Monsant Catalonia Spain

2004 Can Blau Reserva Monsant Catalonia Spain
Suggested retail price $45-$50
Imported and Distributed by Tempranillo Inc. in NYC

Their 2007 Can Blau (regular, sold for $16-$18) is really quite good, rich and smooth. However, the 2004 Can Blau Reserva is a monster of flavors and intensity, in the same league as some of the best Priorato wines (Priorat, Catalonia, Spain).

Monsant is a little enclave in the south of Catalonia, north of Priorato. Although, usually, not as complex and mineral as the Priorato wines, Monsant wines can sometimes match them in richness and density. 2004 Can Blau Reserva is one of on these extremely intense reds. Powerful and oaky yet balanced and integrated, it boasts flavors of ripe dark berry, rich dark chocolate, moccha, earth, spice and toasted oak notes. It is a good alternative for big Cabernet and Zinfandel lovers. Pair it with something substancial like grilled steak or BBQ.


LeDom du Vin

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2000 Marques de Murrieta "Castillo Ygay" Reserva Rioja Spain

2000 Marques de Murrieta "Castillo Ygay" Reserva Rioja Spain
Suggested retail price $39-$44
Distributed by Empire wine Merchants in NYC

Murrieta is a classic winery from the even more classic and recognized Rioja region in Spain.

Their 2004 Marques de Murrieta Reserva is delightful, dense, earthy, with ripe dark fruit, excellent texture and very good tannin structure. It is, somewhat, a wine with one foot in the classic way and one foot in the more modern way.

2004, in Rioja, was in my opinion a fantastic vintage that offers lot of ripe fruit and richness and that will surely develop nicely for quite a few years. Most 2004 wines that I tasted were young and promising, but very enjoyable after 20 minutes of decantation.

2001, in Rioja, remains, for me, a reference in terms of quality, depth, complexity, strength and elegance. Most 2001 that I tasted were (for most of them) quite exceptional, especially for the more classic wineries but also for the newer style wineries.

Here are some of my favorites Rioja's winery: Marques de Riscal, Bodegas Riojanas, Muga, CVNE, Lopez de Heredia, La Rioja Alta, Palacios Remondo, Bodegas Roda, Fernando Remirez de Ganuza, San Vicente, Sierra Cantabria, Contino...(and a few more...).

However, let's come back to Marques de Murrieta. Their 2000 "Castillo Ygay", a special cuvée like a reserva or grand reserva style, is dense and smooth, complex, rich, balanced and very subtle. The robe has orange taint on the rime, sign of a little bit of age, but nothing wrong for a 2000 vintage. Ripe red cherry, oak, spice, mushroom, forest floor and floral aromas resume the nose. On the palate, it expresses flavors of dark berry and red cherry intermingled with hints of spice, earth and forest floor with integrated vanilla oak touch. The elegant mid-palate has a great acidity elevating the juiciness of the fruit and carrying it until the long-lasting dry finish.

Lovely wine!


LeDom du Vin

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

2006 Mas de Gourgonnier Les Baux de Provence Provence France

2006 Mas de Gourgonnier Les Baux de Provence Provence France

(Mme Nicolas Cartier & fils)

If you happen to travel down to the south of France, in Provence, make a little "detour" by "Les Baux de provence". You will surely appreciate this region natural, dry, arid, wild beauty; its wines and also its authentic, rural, rich, flavorful food (especially in the restaurant which bears the same name as this lovely region and happens to be one the best restaurant in France).

In the heart of "Les Alpilles" (sort of foothills chain south-west of the Alpes), a few kilometers far from the village of "Les Baux", one can find the gate to Mas de Gourgonnier. Benefiting from this unique location and their long family tradition, Nicolas Cartier and sons, Luc and Frederique, produce great wines with strong personalities: Red and Rosé wines from AOC "Les Baux de Provence" and also white wines. For the amateurs of regional Provence flavors, they also produce an extraordinary smooth and balanced olive oil.

(FYI: Created in 1995, the AOC "Les Baux de Provence" is only for Red and Rosé wines. The whites are sold under the AOC Côteaux d'Aix en Provence. The olive oil from Les Baux is also an AOC).

Built in the middle of the XVIII century, the "Mas" (typical country house of Provence) was a farm of the "Abbaye de Pierredon" which used to belong to their family. They used to produce all the necessary resources for the monks of the Abbaye.

In this wild, rocky landscape, the sheep were living under the olive trees and the fruit trees until 1950. It is at this period that the first vines were planted. Rapidly a cellar was built. Luc Cartier and his father came to live here and established Mas de Gourgonnier in the 70s, and then Frederic joined them in 1990. The Domaine is now mainly run by Luc and Lucienne Cartier, and since a few years, their daughter, Eve, works with them. Together, they work as a united family aiming at one goal: produce the best Provence terroir expression in a bottle.

They possess about 45 hectares of vines and 20 hectares of olive trees, planted on limestone-clay soils. This type of soils is really characteristic of the south slope of the "Alpilles". The Cartier family prefers natural methods and minimal intervention in the vineyards and in the cellar. They have used "Organic" and sustainable farming for over the past 40 years, long before these words became common in our daily wine vocabulary, and they are certified Biologique Culture (Organic in English). Their white and red wines are usually a blend of different grape varieties: Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan, Mourvèdre and Cabernet-Sauvignon for the reds, and Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache Blanc and Rolle (also known as Vermentino in Italy) for the whites.

Mas de Gourgonnier Tradition combines 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Carignan, 20% Grenache, and 9% Syrah. After harvest done partly by hand and partly by machine, the wine was fermented than aged in stainless steel tanks to keep the maximum freshness, juiciness and fruit flavors. (FYI: at Mas de Gourgonnier, only the "Reserve" wines are aged in oak: big "Foudres" of 50-70hl for the reds, and in oak barrels for the whites).

2006 Mas de Gourgonnier Les Baux de Provence Provence France (Mme Nicolas Cartier & fils)
Suggested retail price $13-$15
Imported & Distributed by Michael Skurnik Wines in NYC

The 2006 Mas de Gourgonnier Tradition boasts aromas of wild berries and blackberries with floral and Garrigue notes. The palate is juicy, somewhat rustic, with present yet integrated tannins adding dimension and structure to this well crafted organic Provençal red wine. The black berry flavors intermingle with hints of Cassis and spice in the mid-palate, while the finish is all about slightly dry tannins and more Garrigue. It will pair well with a roasted rack of Lamb, grilled T-bone steak and various cheeses.

FYI: "Garrigue", like the word "Terroir", is a French word (or term) that encompasses many components as a whole.

"Terroir" usually refers to the combination of climate, micro-climate, type of soils, location, exposition, geography and topography, and the uniqueness of the surroundings influencing particular vineyards and the produced wines in a determined area.

"Garrigue" is a word (or a term) mainly used in Provence and the Languedoc. However, some of us use it, during tasting in our tasting notes, as a reference for aromas and flavors found in various wine regions in the south of France bordering the Mediterranean Sea . In Provence, Garrigue usually refers to the landscape, climate and type of soils; but more importantly, it combines the earthy aromas and flavors of different type of herbs (Thyme, Rosemary, etc..), bush trees, olive trees, fruit trees and pine trees, with the very distinctive scents of flowers (Lavender, etc..), bay leaf and dark fruits (Cassis, Blackberry, etc..), together mixed with the influence of the Mistral wind and the Mediterranean sea.

Just close your eyes and imagine yourself walking in a vineyard in Provence during the hot month of July... are you there yet?


LeDom du Vin

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2006 J. L. Chave Selection Cotes du Rhone "Mon Coeur" Rhone France

2006 J. L. Chave Selection Cotes du Rhone "Mon Coeur" Rhone France
Suggested retail price $19-$22
Imported by Erin Cannon Imports & distributed by Willette wines in NYC

When it is neither too cold nor too hot outside, Spring and Autumn seem to be the perfect seasons to experience earthy, Syrah and Grenache based red Rhône wines, especially those from Domaine Chave. Combining traditional methods with new techniques and respect for the environment, they produce some of the finest red and white wines from Hermitage.

Family owned, Domaine Jean Louis Chave is one of the oldest and one of the most recognized wineries of the Rhône Valley. Famous for their world renowned Hermitage, Chave produces a number of other delicious bottlings from the region

In the early 1970’s, Gerard Chave, Jean-Louis' father, bought the Domaine, slowly built the international reputation of its red and white Hermitage and gradually expanded the vineyards. From a family of vine growers since 1481, Jean-Louis followed his father’ steps, helped him in the wine making process since 1982 and finally joined him in 1992.

Domaine Chave is now one of the largest family-run estates in northern Rhone with E. Guigal, outside “négociants” like Chapoutier, Paul Jaboulet Aîné, and the “Cave de Tain l'Hermitage”. They possess 14.5 hectares (1/4 Roussanne and Marsanne and 3/4 Syrah) planted on terraces around Hermitage and also own a further 1.5 hectare in St-Joseph.

As Jean-Louis Chave became more and more involved, he emphasized the quality of the soil by applying organic farming involving natural compost, indigenous yeast and careful grapes selection with minimum use of sulfites. Chave even uses a horse to work the vineyards. The result shows in his stunning Hermitages but also in his smaller vineyards like this earthy, enjoyable "Mon Coeur" Cotes du Rhone.

The delicious and attractively priced “Mon Coeur” is a blend of predominantly Grenache with a good dose of Syrah. The wine boasts fresh, earthy aromas of red and dark berries with floral and mineral hints. On the palate, blackberry and raspberry fruit flavors intermingle with notes of licorice, dark chocolate and peppery spices. The earthy, somewhat rustic tannins complement the dense fruit profile and lead way to a lingering finish. “Mon Coeur” will pair well with stuffed game, wild birds including a classic roast turkey, duck or pheasant.


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Read more of my notes at www.ledomduvin.com

2007 Miolo Family Vineyards Pinot Noir Vale Dos Vinedos Benito Goncalves Brazil

2007 Miolo Family Vineyards Pinot Noir Vale Dos Vinedos Benito Goncalves Brazil
Suggested retail price $11-$13
Imported by Wonderful Ethnic Imports LLC, and distributed by Metro in NYC

The history of Miolo coincides with the arrival in mass of Italian immigrants searching for a new life and new opportunities in Brazil, in the late 19th century. Giuseppe Miolo arrived in 1897 with a passion for vine and wine. He bought a piece of land, called lot 43 at the time, which is thus now the name for their highest cuvee wine.

Back then, the Miolo family, with a few other Italian families, were pioneers in growing fine grapes in Brazil. However, like in many countries in Europe and other wine regions in the world, it was only during the mid-70s, early 80s, that wine and winemaking started to change for the better. New techniques, cleaner cellars, higher respect of the Terroir and more appropriate grape planted in the right type of soil, brought a new era for winemaking. More European properties were just starting to bottle their wine at the property and ageing in oak barrel became more common (I should write a post about this subject...). It is around that time that Giuseppe Miolo’s grandsons, Darcy, Antônio and Paulo became known in the region for the quality of their grapes, and later their wines.

In the late 80s, a crisis affected the Brazilian "caves cooperaties" (known as canteens) and the sales of grapes dropped. Thus, in 1989, the Miolo family decided to produce its own wine and sell it in bulk to other wineries. Vinicola Miolo was then established. However, Miolo only bottled its first wine under its own label in 1994. The demand was high and the growth was fast. Miolo had to adapt and expand.

In 1998, they started their "Quality Project" to introduce Brazilian wines to the world and expand even their business. They invested in tools, materials, land, vineyards and human resources; built better, more suitable and nicer facilities; and started to offer wines from different grape varieties. They never stopped growing since then...The Project for the Expression of the Brazilian Terroir was implemented.

To capture the true essence of the Brazilian Terroir, Miolo has vineyards in the 5 main wine regions of Brazil: Vale dos Vinhedos, Vale do São Francisco, Campanha, Campos de Cima da Serra and Serra Gaúcha. Some belong to them, some are part of alliances with key producers and vineyard owners. Miolo is working hard for the customers to recognize the quality of Brazilian wines and to put Brazil on the world wine map.

Located in the mountains of the State of Rio Grande do Sul (Serra Gaúcha), between the cities of Bento Gonçalves, Garibaldi and Monte Belo, the "Vale dos Vinhedos" (the Vineyard valley) is an area privileged by the tradition of production of fine wines and by being the first region of Brazil with geographical indication, certified by a Seal of Origin.

This 100% Pinot Noir, from Bento Goncalves - Vale dos Vinhedos, is really well made, somewhat a cross between a Burgundy and a Languedoc Pinot Noir, but earthier and rustic yet juicy with lovely fruit texture and structure. Light to medium bodied, with great acidity, it is a great example of Pinot Noir from Brazil that shouldn't be overlooked. It is pretty enjoyable on its own and is even better with light red meat dishes. I don't think that it sees any oak, but if it does, the oak influence and flavors are very neutral in the palate.

Info mostly taken from their website at www.miolo.com.br


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2007 Vinyes I Vins CA SA Padrina González-Suñer Mantonegro Binissalem-Mallorca Spain

2007 Vinyes I Vins CA SA Padrina González-Suñer Mantonegro Binissalem-Mallorca Spain
Suggested retail price $16-$19
A Jose Pastor Selection imported by Vinos & Gourmet, Inc. and distributed by David Bowler Wines in NYC

Mallorca (or Majorca in English) is the biggest Spanish island of the Balearic Island archipelago, located in the Mediterranean Sea, east of Spain.

Mallorca is more well known for its beaches and other touristic sights, than for its wines. In fact, vines were mostly planted by the Romans around 120 BC and have always been cultivated on this island for the last 2000+ years, as well as Olive trees, fruit trees and salt mines, but the Phyloxera ravaged most of the vineyards in the late 19th century.

The two world wars and the Spanish civil war at the beginning of the 20th century corresponded to a dark era for the island. However, the 50s marked the beginning of a new era of hope and re-adaptation, with new building projects and diverse investments adapted to face an increasing new wave of tourists coming in mass from Spain and all over Europe and north Africa.

A few adventurous pioneers started to replant some vines in the 60s and the 70s, but due to the ever increasing number of tourists as well as the local population, the price of the land also increased, the high demand for the real-estate market drove the house and apartment prices up, making more difficult for new comers and winemakers to invest or to plant.

Thus, compared to the many producers and the 70,000+ acres of pre-Phyloxera vines in 1860, nowadays Mallorca counts about 30 wineries and only encompasses about 2,500 acres of vineyards, mainly squeezed in two DO (Denominación de Origen): Binissalem, in the center of the island, and Pla i Llevant in the eastern part of the island. If a wine is produced outside of the two DO, it is designated as Viña de la Tierra.

Mantonegro is the name of this wine produced by Gonzales-Suñer at CA SA Padrina, but it also the name of the main grape variety of this wine. The winery is located in the DO Binissalem-Mallorca, in the mountainous village of Sencelles (Sencellas), central Mallorca.

CA SA Padrina winery was founded in 1999 by biologist and winegrower Suñer Andreu and the physician and winemaker Jesus Gonzalez. This Mantonegro is their first wine and was first produced and marketed in 2002. They possess 9 hectares of vineyards, planted in sandy soils covered of pebbles. This type of soils originates from the Tertiary era, and is very common in the center of the island.

Their goal is to produce quality, balanced wines highlighting the fruit with minimal oak influenced, made predominantly with indigenous grapes (like Mantonegro and Callet for the red, and Moll, also known as Prensal Blanc, for the white), sometimes blend with more international grapes varieties.

The production is carefully controlled in the vineyard and in the cellar. Low yield adjusted to 2.5 kilos per vines allows to keep only the best bunches, the harvest is done 80% manually. The different varieties are vinified separately, then fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks prior to blending and ageing, which takes place in French, American, Hungarian and Bulgarian oak barrels (10% new to allow minimal oak influenced).

I loved the dark, spicy and earthy attitude of this wine. It is my second experience tasting a wine from Mallorca. I first tasted, liked and used to sell 2003 Son Bordils Negre a few years ago (I need to admit that it was slightly overripe, rustic and tannic, but I still liked it for what it was and where it came from). Gonzales-Suñer Mantonegro is a juicier and much more polished wine.

2007 Vinyes I Vins CA SA Padrina Gonzales-Suñer Mantonegro Binissalem-Mallorca is made of predominantly Mantonegro grapes (75%) blended with a good dose of Callet completed by a small addition of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah (25%). The robe is bright, clean and crimson red. The nose expresses attractive aromas of raspberry, strawberry and red cherry accentuated by fresh, mineral, earthy, spicy notes and floral hints. The attack is juicy and concentrated with refreshing ripe red berry flavors. The mid-palate expands gently and boasts layers of flavors balanced by a great acidity. Ripe red berry, spice, minerals and earthy yet integrated tannins constitute the main components of the lingering, focus finish.

Overall, it is a very enjoyable juicy, earthy wine, less ripe and higher in acidity than I thought, probably due to high elevation vineyards benefiting from a medium to good average of rain fall a year, slightly higher than on the plains, despite the hot Mediterranean climate. To discover ASAP. Pair it with grilled red meat and cheeses.


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