Archive for Red

Jan
21

What Old World Grenache Can Be

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I am one of those wine people who believe the soils and growing conditions can greatly affect the resulting wine.  Fortunately, the Old World countries such as France and Italy, have had decades, even in some cases centuries to discover where the truly special vineyards are.  In many of these cases the wine is then named after the place, rather than the grape variety.

To better illustrate what can be, let’s, for instance, take a look at the Grenache red grape variety.

While there may be some real standouts made exclusively from Grenache, this grape variety has really made quite the niche for itself when blended with other grape varieties such as Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault, just to name three.

In France’s southern Rhone Valley, many top echelon wineries have created quite the reputation and legacy through their blends of these grape varieties grown in their estate vineyards.  Each vineyard offers different soils and growing conditions, which along with the skill of the winemaker, in my opinion result in a VERY different kind of wine!

Here are some which have stood out for me over the years.

2014 Catherine Le Goeuil Côtes du Rhône Villages Cairanne–The hilltop village of Cairanne in France’s southern Rhone Valley is little known outside of the country.  Locally, it is generally considered the home of some of the finest Grenache based red wines among the 17 legally recognized Côtes du Rhône Villages.  It is also the home to wine wonder woman, Catherine Le Goeuil, who is and has been one of the champions of the organic and biodynamic farming in all of France for quite some time.  Her wines are rustic and earthy yet so charming and wonderfully delicious.  I recommend you serve it slightly chilled for afternoon sipping, outdoor barbecues or just to wet the whistle.  What a great value!

2012 Domaine Gallety “Côtes du Vivarais”–The Côtes du Vivarais runs along the western flank of the northern part of France’s southern Rhone Valley.  I only became acquainted with this newer wine appellation in roughly 2007 upon a visit.  I was so mesmerized by their tasty, interesting and unique red wine, we special ordered some for our VINO restaurant.  This bottling is 50% 50 to 60 year old vine Grenache and 50% 25 to 30 year old vine Syrah grown in a very different mix of soils.  A warmer, somewhat semiarid kind of spot, as the you will see in the picture.  We were so taken by this wine’s transparency, refinement, class, texture and balance.  I am so surprised this wine hasn’t really yet been discovered, so I suggest you take advantage of the fabulous pricing it still has, especially considering the superb quality in the bottle.

2014 Sang des Cailloux Vacqueyras–The village of Vacqueyras is yet another small, relatively low keyed discovery.  When I first visited, in 1991, I was taken back how many soils types I would see there during a 15 minute drive.  We enjoyed a filling lunch at a café before heading to meet owner/winemaker Serge Férigoule.  It was to be an introduction to a man, his vineyard and wine I will remember forever.  To this day, it is one of my favorites.  His vineyards are located on the Plateau des Garrigues, an elevated mishmash of rocks, rounded river stones, red clay and limestone, which gives this wine its strong, masculine, wildly rustic core, depth and soulfulness.  Typically, the blend is mostly Grenache with a slug of Syrah and small tidbits of Mourvedre and Cinsault.  This wine was also the partner of one of my all time food and wine pairings—Fire Roasted Ribeye Steak with a bay leaf chimichurri.

2014 Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape “La Crau”–Undoubtedly, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, is historically, the most famous wine appellation in France’s southern Rhone Valley.  It is also home to one of the world’s most famous red wines, which over the past 20 years, have been getting lots of press and high scores, which will, at least, explain some the much higher prices.  Like all areas, the are many nooks and crannies with different characteristics.  (Think about how different Nanakuli and Manoa are on O’ahu).  One of the most special and celebrated vineyards parcels of the appellation I have run across is La Crau, which is what I would characterize as a mound of rounded river stones (galets roulés) pushed together by ancient glaciers.  This gathering of stones with other earthen soils, minerals and the old vines of mainly Grenache and Syrah, can create a VERY different kind of wine—majestic in a very masculine manner, with a very earthen, rustic core and the ability to age into something utterly magical down the road when cellared properly.  Yes, $90 is pricey, but when one compares what you can get from Bordeaux, Napa Valley or Burgundy, this really is a deal.

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Jan
05

A Tasting of FOUR Corsican Reds @ VINO

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We just came back from Corsica which has been on my wish list for thirty-plus years. What a trip!!!! And one which has inspired this tasting.

On this night, we will taste FOUR of the most interesting wines from the island—each from a different appellation and their finest resident producer. Each well represents what this wild, remote countryside has to offer and its wonderful, innate savoriness, rather than fruitiness to its core. They should show tasters the vast potential of what this island is capable of producing. I suggest you jump on the bandwagon now and beat the crowds, the inevitable long wait lists and escalating prices.

After all, how often do opportunities like this come around?

2014 Giacometti Patrimonio “Cru des Agriate”–From the Patrimonio appellation (north—highlighted in dark purple). Located in the very remote Agriate desert….4½ hours of rugged four wheeling to get to this spot. We in fact turned around, because the road was too challenging and way too time consuming. 97% Niellucciu and 3% Grenache, grown in clay, limestone and schist. Fermented in stainless and aged on the lees for ten months.  I loved its earnest savoriness, transparency & texture.

2014 Maestracci Corse Calvi “E Prove”–From the Calvi appellation (northwest—highlighted in light purple)…a hearty, masculine style. A very important winery for the future, because of their high quality wines, grown and produced under the direction of true vigneron Camille-Anaïs Raoust, one of the island’s “chosen” winemakers, PLUS they really over deliver for the dollar. 35% Niellucciu, 35% Grenache, 15% Sciacarellu, 15% Syrah grown in clay-sand on granite. Fermented in stainless and aged for one year in large foudres.  4 years in age, this masculine, rustic, savory red was rocking!

2017 Abbatucci “Valle di Nero”–From the Ajaccio appellation (west—highlighted in red)…Jean Charles Abbatucci is regarded as one of the very top vignerons in all of Corsica. He is a fiery proponent of heirloom, indigenous vines grown uber-biodynamic. 100% Carcaghjolu Neru—sourced decades ago high up in the isolated and mountainous interior of the island from elderly peasant farmers, effectively saving it from extinction. We had this wine one night at Le 20123 Restaurant in Ajaccio, Corsica with their rustic, very classical styled foods and was certainly one of the highlights of our trip.  I loved how juicy, savory, delicious, suave & surprisingly food friendly it was.  Typically less than 200 cases produced.

 2016 Buzzo Bunifazziu–From Bonifaccio–the southern tip of the island.  (We served this wine BLIND, just for fun.)  This dense, savory, minerally, rustic red wine is produced from the native Minustellu grape variety, grown in hard argilo-calcaire (limestone) soils & fermented & aged in stainless (NO stems).  This wine was the unsolicited, though unanimous crowd favorite of the night.

Thank you to all who came.

Categories : General, Red, Wine, Wine Thoughts
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Jan
05

Keith’s BYOB Grenache Tasting 09-24-18

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One of our VINO teammates, Keith, puts together a themed BYOB tasting every now & then at his home.  The latest one featured Grenache based wines & proved to be quite a learning experience.  Thank you to Keith AND all who came to partake & share.

Here is a list of  the wines we tried on this evening–2015 a tribute to Grace Grenache “Besson Vineyard”; 2015 Sucette Grenache “Vine Vale Barossa Valley”; Joel Gott “Shatter”; 2012 Even A. Bekke Ventoux “Clos de Trias”; 2014 Sierra Cantabria Garnacha; 2013 Les Mille Vignes “Chasse Filou”; 2015 Gramenon Côtes-du-Rhône “L’Elémentaire”; 2015 Gramenon Vinsobres “La Papesse”; 2010 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape “La Crau”; 2016 Domaine de Fontsainte Corbières “Gris de Gris” Rosé.

This line-up proved to be quite insightful, an unbelievable opportunity to sample wines side by side.  It is so easy when sampling each wine on its own to get caught up in that you liked this wine for various reasons, including the story behind the wine or the 92 points anointed by wine writers such as Robert Parker.  It really can be a whole ‘nother experience when tasting the wine side by side to others.  The insights experienced can be quite remarkable.

Having said that, here were my highlights–

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015 Sucette Grenache “Vine Vale Barossa Valley”–I was really again taken by this wine’s wonderful savoriness, transparency, elegance, mojo, vinosity & suavability.  I really thought it was superb!  AND, I would without a doubt spend the $15 more a bottle that it costs in comparison to the wine tasted prior.  The vines were planted in 1860 & 1870, own rooted in dominately sand.  Definitely a wine well worth seeking out.  Thank you Cheryle for sharing this wine!

2013 Les Mille Vignes IGP Pays de l’Aude “Chasse Filou”–this wine rocked!  It had lots of mojo, character, funk & soul to its core, while still offering delicious, ripe, vinous fruit from beginning to end.  It really was something to savor & enjoy.  OMG.  I will certainly be buying this wine again!  (50 year old vines, clay, limestone soils, de-stemmed, aged for 18 months in stainless & bottle before release).  Owner/winemaker Valérie Guerin is certainly one of the hottest tickets down in southern France & this wine clearly showed us why.  Thank you Jacob for sharing!

2015 Domaine Gramenon Côtes-du-Rhône “L’Elémentaire”–such wonderful character–old vines, unique soils–marvelous transparency, savoriness, class & surprisingly light on its feet.  This wine scored much lower than the Clos de Trias Ventoux by the wine media (92 points) & I thought the opposite, as it displayed much more vinosity/complexity, class & soulfulness.  I am a huge fan of this domaine, its wines & their strong belief in doing things as sustainably as their main core value.  Thank you Ann for sharing this wine!

2015 Domaine Gramenon Vinsobres “La Papesse”–what a wine!  Certainly one of the wines of the night for me.  I have been quite the fan of this domaine’s wines for a while now.  For those of you not so familiar with them, Domaine Gramenon produces at least 8 different red wine bottlings under their label, with at least 3 others under the Maxime François Laurent label, so it can be quite confusing to navigate the differences between each of them.  Well, let me say, this particular bottling, 2015 Vinsobres “La Papesse” is the best I have from either to date.  Besides showcasing their signature transparency, savoriness, class, this one had much more mojo & a real soulfulness to its core, which I found so intriguing & totally mesmerizing.  Wow!  Thank you Cheryle for sharing!

2010 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape “La Crau”–how does one follow a touching wine like the Gramenon Vinsobres “La Papesse”?  Certainly not an easy task.  Leave it to host, Keith, to bust out one of the most iconic producers of Grenache based reds AND with a bottling from the 2010 vintage.  While all of the previous wines on this list offered something unique & quite special, this wine additionally offered real pedigree.  Yes, this was an example of what world class Grenache blends could be.  It is no wonder why this estate & its wines are so highly revered, AND, I would add to that, based up this taste, deservedly so.  Thank you Keith for sharing!

2016 Domaine Fontsainte Corbières “Gris de Gris” Rosé–we ended this tasting with a sip of wonderfully refreshing rosé–50% Grenache Gris, 20% Grenache Noir, 20% Carignan, 5% Cinsault, 5% Mourvedre–from southern France & the Corbières appellation.  This has been on our favorite list since the 1980’s, because of how delicious, thirstquenching & incredibly food friendly their wines are year in & year out.  PLUS, they each offer such GREAT VALUE on top of it all.  Thank you Ann for sharing.  A wonderful way to end this tasting.

Categories : General, Red, Wine, Wine Thoughts
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I distinctly remember my first encounter with the Morgon wines from the “Gang of Four”.  In short, they were like no other wine I had encountered before.  Led by Marcel Lapierre, the “Gang” included Jean Foillard, Jean-Paul Thevenet & Guy Breton, who were inspired by & followed the teachings of Jules Chauvet & his very “back to basics” thoughts both in the vineyard & the winery.

When I then brought the wines to Hawaii back in the early 1990’s, not even in my wildest imagination would I have imagined these four would “change the game” in Beaujolais, make Beaujolais “cool” to drink again & stir the thought pot, which would help change the way wines were grown & produced throughout France & eventually the world.

Yes, it was four guys in Beaujolais. 

Imagine my absolute thrill that 2 1/2 months ago, one of them, Jean Foillard & the children of 2 of his contemporaries’/”partner’s in the Gang” would be coming to Hawaii to do a tasting,  They were part of immense wine talent that came here to participate in the 2018 Hawaii Food & Wine Festival.

The line-up of wines for their tasting was quite impressive–1 flight featuring the wines from Marcel Lapierre (Camille Lapierre representing), 1 flight from Jean-Paul Thevenet/Charly Thevenet (Charly Thevenet representing & 1 flight from Jean Foillard (Jean Foillard representing).

A big, much mahalo to Warren Shon of SGWS for making this happen.  What a tasting & experience!

Categories : General, Red, Wine, Wine Thoughts
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Dec
10

A Carignan Tasting at SommCon (San Diego)

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SommCon is an en masse gathering of sommeliers & other wine professionals.  The one held this past November was in San Diego, California & featured 3 days worth of panel discussions, presentations & educational seminars.  One of the most interesting presentations I attended was– “Carignan–it’s just not for blending any more“–by Geoff Labitzke, Master of Wine & Brian Lynch of Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants.

My fascination for the Carignan grape variety has really grown over the years.  As the title of the seminar suggests it was typically used as a blending component rather than a featured, stand alone bottling.

The first Carignan based red wine that caught my fancy was from Domaine de Fontsainte & their Corbières red in the late 80’s/early 90’s.  I found it to be so delicious, tasty, food friendly & gulpable.  Shortly thereafter, when tasting other Corbieres red wines from their neighbors, I was rather put off by the over use of Syrah to their blends & I was thankful to have experienced the Fontsainte rendition first.  Subsequently I also took a fancy to their “Réserve La Demoiselle” bottling (the Carignane planted in 1904).  These 2 wines opened a whole new thought for me on what Carignane could offer.

A short time later, my next Carignan experience was produced by the Pellegrini family (California) back in the early 1990’s.  I found it to be tasty, interesting & quite food friendly though very unique, rambunctious & virile.  It was also quite a great value for what one got in the bottle.  This wine showed me what was possible in California, especially from the Sonoma & Mendocino wine growing areas.  (I have since found 2 other interesting Carignane based red wines out of California worth checking out–Folk Machine “Parts & Labor” & the Neyers Carignan “Evangelho Vineyard”)

In both cases, I found Carignan not to be showy or as outgoing as those wines produced from Syrah, Grenache or Mourvedre grape varieties.  It had its own set of characteristics.  I especially liked old vine renditions as Carignan seemed to be quite a conduit of character & vinosity from the old vines to the wine in the bottle, at least in certain cases.  It really was those cases that greatly peaked my interest.  After Fontsainte, I discovered that importer Kermit Lynch added other Carignan driven wines to his fabulous portfolio, including old vine Carignan dominated bottlings from Sylvain Fadat at D’Aupilhac, Maxime Magnon, Leon Barral, Vinci & Les Milles Vignes.  Each offer something special & compelling.

With Carignan, there were also some to be found out of Spain’s Priorat region that are also interesting.

So, I was quite anxious to see what Geoff & Brian would offer at this tasting seminar.  They did NOT disappoint.  Geoff sought after & collected some interesting renditions from Mexico, Sonoma, San Diego, Chile, Spain AND Tunisia of all places!  Brian brought & shared 4 true Carignane superstars from his portfolio–Maxime Magnon “Campagnes”; Domaine D’Aupilhac “Le Carignan”; Vinci “Rafalot” &  Les Milles Vignes “Dennis Royal”–each wine featuring 80 to 100 year old Carignane vines, their fruit & very masterful grape growing & winemaking. It was quite an insightful gathering of wines & tasting & I was overjoyed.  Thank you guys for this fabulous opportunity! 

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Nov
24

VINO–out of the box

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Someone recently commented that Italy had roughly 511 different grape varieties. Another said 1200. The point is—there are many. The most challenging aspect I have discovered during my travels to wine country is finding the really “good” examples, sifting through the lists of possible wines and wineries to find those that have something interesting, unique and memorable to offer. That is not as easy as one would think. Last trip, for instance, after two weeks, up and down Italy, we found none fitting the bill. Still, one has to keep trying, right? Here are four which recently came on to our radar screen and are really worth checking out, keeping in mind, each is totally out of most people’s comfort zone. 

2014 Castelluccio Sangiovese di Romagna “Le More”–Here is Sangiovese with a twist. This one is grown in the Modigliano hills, which until the 1930’s was referred to as “ancient Tuscany”, as it was still considered part of Tuscany. The soils have a layer of marl-limestone with elevations between 750 to 1500 feet. Not only is this quite a unique & special site, BUT also consider this project is overseen by legendary, superstar winemaker Vittorio Fiore.

Lambrusco, Ariola “Marcello Gran Cru”–At VINO, we have a real hankering for a glass of well chilled, wonderfully refreshing, uplifting Italian Lambrusco & are therefore always looking.  Here is one of the most acclaimed of the Lambrusco category.  Produced from 100% Lambrusco Maestri, this is a vividly fresh, fizzy, completely refreshing wine ideal served well chilled & with a selection of salumi & cheeses.  “Marcello impresses with its aromatic richness and for its softness. A Lambrusco that contains a rare amount of technique, passion and nature, thanks to its immediate pleasantness of the flavor. The cellar Ariola, founded in 1956, stands on the hills between Felino and Langhirano, in the heart of the Food Valley and Doc Colli di Parma”.  Undoubtedly a benchmark to measure others by in the future.

2014 Livon Pignolo “Eldoro”— I became intrigued with the Pignolo grape variety back in the early to mid 1990’s, because of one bottling–that from then named producer Zamó  & Palazzolo, from the Colli Orientale subzone of Friuli, Italy.  Those early renditions, had a very dark pigmentation, very strikingly blue/purple hued, (rather than black) showed that this grape variety had a strong core, ample tannins & firm structure.  I then was further intrigued with the Pignolo from Walter Filiputti & vintages in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, when we were opening VINO over on Maui.  Filiputti also worked with vines near & around the Abbey at Rosazzo, just as Zamó had.  This certainly seemed to be a sweet spot for growing this rather challenging grape variety.  I didn’t know what to expect from this Livon rendition, as it was a gift.  It’s core, mojo & presence was a shadow of what I had had before.  I wouldn’t say I was wow-ed by any means, but it was interesting nonetheless.

2010 La Viarte Schiopettino del Prepotto–100% Schiopettino.  La Viarte’s estate vineyards are located in the Colli Orientale region of Friuli.  Insiders say this red grape variety grew in popularity because it was much easier to grow & with more consistent yields than indigenous Friulian vines such as Pignolo.  Still, we continually look for more & more red wines like this which offer real savoriness from beginning to end in the wine without any sense of heaviness & richness. We believe wines like this can offer a completely different dimension to food & wine pairings.

2011 Petro Nera Sforzato di Valtellina–a completely different and unforgettable take on what Nebbiolo can be. Valtellina is one of the northernmost grape growing areas of Italy. The entire DOCG is but 282 hectares in size, the best sites—high in elevation, dizzyingly steep and therefore terraced This the home to Nebbiolo, locally known as Chiavennasco.   Sforzato di Valtellina takes a slightly different approach, using the passito method–the grapes are harvested late when the bunches are partly raisined. And then they undergo further drying in aerated crates. It is quite unusual to do so with Nebbiolo,” says Stefano, “But it really enhances the wine in color, aroma and flavour.”

 

Categories : General, Red, Wine, Wine Thoughts
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Sep
23

A duo from Quintarelli

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While I have been quite a fan of the Quintarelli wines for a while, as the prices rose, there were less opportunities for tastings them.  I also must admit that while I appreciate Amarone & the immense skill & effort needed to grow & produce one, I have not been so wow-ed by Amarone in general.  The wines were often too much about ripeness for me & less about terroir.

(Please understand, I once fortunately had a 25 plus year old Quintarelli Amarone & therefore understood that once the wine had a chance to resolve itself through considerable bottle age, the terroir would show itself once again, surrounded by harmony & real thoroughbred class).

Eventhough I was so impressed with the magnitude of Quintarelli Amarone (& Dal Forno Romano & I would also include Quintarelli Alzero), I just couldn’t bring myself to buy them because of the high price tag & more often than not, chose to instead spend my money on something else.

It was therefore quite thrilling to again sample a couple of of Quintarelli red wines that had some bottle age.  I was anxious when I first saw the bottles & most thankful to sample such wine treasures.  And, while they were not Amarone, they were standouts & very memorable in their own right.

2008 Quintarelli “Ca’ del Merlot”–just in case readers are not familiar with Quintarelli wines, this wine is NOT at all about Merlot, & as far as I know, has NO Merlot included in its blend.  This is a single vineyard (limestone, clay & basalt dominated soils), rising up to a hillside near & above the town of Negrar with the Veneto region of northeast Italy.  It took me a while to understand this bottling, as it is typically a blend–mainly of Corvina & Corvinone with a small percentage of Rondinella & a smattering of other grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon & Franc, Nebbiolo, Croatina & Sangiovese.  The key word to describe this wine is “graceful”.  It is really graceful as it smoothly glides down the palate, yes, with more viscosity & density & I was really taken by it.  It is also much more than ripe fruit, opulence & a raisiny edge.  It was unique & memorable.  50% of the grapes are immediately pressed & initially made as one would a still red wine.  (The other 50% is dried for 2 months.)  This juice is then added to the Amarone lees which creates a secondary fermentation (ripasso).  Once that is complete, the wine is then racked into large Slavonian oak barrels for at least 7 years.  Yes, Quintarelli is world renown for his patience & great care when making his wines, which is mostly why his wines are so individual, highly revered, sought after & pricey.  We are quite the fans of this wine.

1990 Valpolicella Classico “Superiore”–I was actually initially given this wine blind.  I had NO idea what was in the glass & I was really quite taken with what I was smelling.  The wine had lots of class & vinosity, was VERY captivating & VERY harmonious.  When I was told what it was I just dove back in again & again.  The perfume really was very unique, compelling & virtually incomparable to anything I remember having before.  There was a delicate, sweet oak presence though very well integrated with dried fruit & a wonderful savoriness, lush, viscous texture, nuance after nuance & a very long finish.. Though obviously aged, it was quite surprisingly youthful in its core.  What a wine!  Not necessarily Grand Cru in its intent, but certainly a very intriguing, provocative, unique & a special bottle of wine.  Thank you Mike for sharing!

Both of these wine treasures reaffirmed the masterful talent of Quintarelli, that’s for sure.

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Aug
16

A BYOB Syrah Tasting 07-09-18

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Our “in house” wine “mole” Keith also works full time at one of Hawaii’s top wine retailers.  This young man has a genuine passion for searching out good wines, both locally & it seems on line too.  Every now & then he puts together a BYOB winetasting at his home & invites a bunch of wine friends over to hang out, share their wine stash & talk story.  This was one of those nights, which he themed Syrah.

Here is the list of wines we tasted–

2012 Urban Legend Syrah “Cooper Ranch”; 2014 Yangarra Shiraz “Estate McLaren Vale”; 2007 Whitcraft Syrah “Stolpman Ranch”; 2015 L’Ecole Syrah No. 41 “Columbia Valley”; 2011 Gramercy Cellars Syrah “Lagniappe; 2013 Villa Creek “High Road”; 2001 Girasole Syrah “Eaglepoint Ranch”; Fabrizio Dionisio Syrah “Castagnino”; 2014 Vignoble Jean-Luc Jamet “Vino de Pays–Collines Rhodaniennes”; 2013 Chateau Fontanes “La Petite Serine”; 2015 Gramenon “Sierra du Sud”; 2014 JL Chave Crozes Hermitage “Silène”; 2013 Clape “Vin de Amis”; 2009 Matthieu Barrett Cornas “Les Terrasses du Serre”; 2014 Lionel Faury Côte Rôtie; 2014 Lionel Faury Côte Rôtie “Emporium; 2005 Patrick Jasmin Côte Rôtie.

Here is my comments on some of the highlights–

2012 Urban Legend Syrah “Cooper Ranch”–Urban Legend is a pretty exciting wine project in Oakland, California.  They buy grapes from some very interesting nooks & crannies of California to make some interesting wine for sale at their facility in Oakland.  This Barbera was grown in Plymouth, California, roughly an hour or so east of Sacramento in the Sierra Foothills.  A few years back, I went to visit Dick Cooper & walked away with a true admiration of him & what he does.  He is definitely an icon & excels at growing Barbera.  This 2012 was juicy, tasty, inviting, a real crowd pleasing style & explains why this wine project is gaining such momentum in becoming a  real wine destination.

2007 Whitcraft Syrah “Stolpman Ranch”–Chris Whitcraft was a “one of kind” winemaker.  Either people loved his wines or they didn’t.  There was little ground in between.  I am not sure if he made this 2007.  Having some health issues for quite some time, he was on & off in making the wines in the 2000’s.  I had always thought, 2006 was the last vintage he made himself & from 2007 on, his son, Drake, was at the helm with Chris helping.   (I was REALLY sad to hear of Chris’s passing some years back.  I doubt there will be another like him.  Such a gifted artist).  This 2007 was really good.  It had the wild & wooly nose, a Whitcraft trademark, with a muskiness, a prominent earthy/forest floor core & a smoky, & uplifting surinam cherry/floral edge.  On the palate, the wine flowed very well, was very harmonious & finished much more civil than one would expect.  I really liked it.  Kudos to Drake.  (FYI–the Stolpman Ranch takes growing Syrah very seriously & is the home to some top notch grapes that’s for sure).  Thank you Brent & Helen for sharing this wine.

2015 L’Ecole Syrah No. 41 “Columbia Valley”–Last year, I visited this winery, which is located outside of Walla Walla town, to taste through their wines.  Their wine tasting room was bustling with business & tasters are buying whatever they can get, especially on the higher end of the spectrum.  It was like a shark feeding frenzy.  Good for them!!!  It is understandable, as their style of wines tends to be forward, generously fruited, plush, palate satiating & certainly made people smile.  This wine was along those lines.  Thank you Ann for sharing this wine.

2011 Gramercy Cellars Syrah “Lagniappe”–wow, this was quite the stunner.  The nose was compelling–sandalwood, dried fruit, exotic spices–with wonderful savoriness, class & intrigue.  It was amazingly elegant, suave, well textured & so finely balanced.  We were also quite entranced with the harmony & gracefulness displayed, given this wine is only 7 years old.  Superb job guys!  It shows tasters what can be in Washington.  As I had mentioned last year after a visit to Washington wine country, I really think Syrah has a home to shine & excellent renditions like this one will make this relatively unsung grape variety grow in importance, prominence & acclaim there.  Thank you Rani for sharing this bottle.

2013 Villa Creek “High Road”–This was quite a shock to the palate following the Gramercy wine.  It was saturatingly black, was, especially initially, huge, voluminous, lavish, bordering decadent, opulent & mouthfilling with hotness in the finish.  One could readily tell this was from a very warm growing area.  With each additional sip, however, this wine definitely had minerality to its core (from the siliceous clay/calcareous soils in the vineyards), which made the wine seems less heavy than it actually was AND much more interesting both in the nose & palate.  While I have been advocating filling the big gap that lies between Pinot & Cabernet on the winelists with more Grenache or Syrah based wines, I would say then that this wine would be a transition for the Cabernet drinker…..AND I think they will be thrilled.  While Villa Creek is a highly lauded producer of Mediterranean grape variety blends out of Paso Robles, his High Road bottling hails exclusively from the much heralded, iconic James Berry vineyard.  The blend changes every year as it is a wine of the vineyard…..what the vineyard wants to say in any given year…….rather than a varietal oriented wine.  That is the magic of High Road.  Thank you Ann for sharing this bottle.

2001 Girasole Syrah “Eaglepoint Ranch”–this was an absolutely glorious, well aged red wine in all its glory.  It was something truly special.  (Unfortunately, it was Cheryle’s last bottle).  It was stunning in its youth AND glorious 17 years later–in BOTH cases showing the potential of what Syrah can be in California.  Girasole was a project where my long time San Francisco friends–Nunzio Alioto & Jeff Figone & I purchased grapes from some very interesting & unique vineyards & asked some of our winemaker friends to craft the wine.  (For more insight into that, please go to the archives section of this blog & look up the JoMani/Girasole post).  This was an opportunity for us to see what a masterful winemaker could do with really good, out of the norm, grapes.  In this case, it was Syrah from Eaglepoint Ranch (1400 feet above the town of Ukiah in Mendocino) & Pinot maestro Fred Scherrer–to me a match made in heaven–“mountain grown” Syrah, crafted by a Pinot master.  Yes, this wine was a dream come true right out of the gates & now 17 years later, a wine, I wish I had more of.  (I want to thank then Edmeades winemaker Van Williamson, then vineyard manager, Casey Hartlip & winemaker Fred Scherrer for making this happen).

2014 Jean-Luc Jamet Valin “Vino de Pays–Collines Rhodaniennes”–we, as a group, really liked this wine.  It featured the dark, voluptuous Syrah fruit reminiscent of the Côte-Rôtie magical mix of violets, lavender, green peppercorns, olives & the savory/raw meat nuances, all done with the Jamet suave-ability & swag. This wine actual comes from the Valine vineyard, which is located atop the Côte-Rôtie hillsides & therefore actually outside of the AOC boundary, yet it still has pedigree & something extra to its mojo.  The other bit I should clear up, is that there is now TWO Jamet producers, as the 2 Jamet brothers split up & went their separate ways.  Jean-Paul Jamet still has the Domaine Jamet label & half of their prime vineyard holdings & Jean-Luc Jamet is the proprietor of this particular wine & label, using his split of the vineyards.  Based upon this wine, I can’t wait to try his Côte-Rôtie “Terrasses” bottling…..& later compare, side by side, the Côte-Rôtie produced by each brother.  Thank you Jamm & Erica for sharing this bottle.

2013 Château Fontanès  “La Petite Serine”–from its first vintage, I have taken a fancy to this Syrah based red wine.  It is the handiwork of Cyriaque Rozier, also the winemaker of Château La Roque, down in the Pic St. Loup appellations of southern France.   Château Fontanès  is his own project.  While most noted for “country” styled wines, including one produced from Cabernet Sauvignon from his own organically/biodynamically vineyards.  A while back, Cyriaque acquired some Petite Serine vine cuttings from the Rhone Valley to the north & from pretty serious minded producers & planted them in his home turf.  I remember way back when early on, the most interesting, compelling northern Rhone Syrahs were, more often that not, produced from this heirloom/heritage vine at houses such as Verset, Clape, Chave & most notably Gentaz Dervieux.  Good enough endorsement for me.  The variable it seems, however, is the controversy of which vine is actually Petite Serine?  Well, if I was impressed by the wines from that iconic quartet, then if it were up to me, I would go to each of them & plead for cuttings.  Cyriaque would not disclose which producers he sought out, but I would say, I’m sure they are that level of quality.  His 2013 “La Petite Serine” wine is much more interesting, savory & compelling than those from most of his neighbors.  I definitely feel he is on to something & the wine is worth searching out, keeping in mind, this is NOT Cru quality or to be confused from Cornas, Hermitage & Côte-Rôtie.  I should also mentioned when one tastes this wine & then look at the more than reasonable price tag, you will appreciate it more & more.  Thank you Jacob for sharing this bottle.

2015 Gramenon “Sierra du Sud”–this was another big time group favorite, I would say because of its provocative transparency, apparent vinosity, balance, texture & uplifting finish.  This is old vine Syrah from the northern reaches of the southern Rhone Valley, grown by a uber–au naturale minded family who lives by this principals, rather just writing about them.   While most of their red wines are Grenache based, Sierra du Sud is Syrah, grown in a varied mix of clay & limestone with gravel, galets roulés, and/or sand.  While I have been a fan of this domaine, their culture & their wines for quite some time, this really was the first time that the Sierra du Sud bottling rocked me.  I was really taken.  Thank you Heather for sharing this bottle.

2014 JL Chave Crozes Hermitage “Silène”–we were again quite taken by this wine & its very skillful winemaking.  While Chave is one of the most iconic wine families in the world (& since 1481), I remember the then younger Jean Louis Chave launching his JL Chave wines in the early 90’s, almost as if to serve as entry wines to their wine world.  I also remember the first 2 St Josephs were very impressive.  This 2014 Crozes Hermitage “Silène” had way more class, mojo & character than almost all of the other Crozes Hermitage red wines I have previously encountered.   I am sure that can be attributed to using grapes coming from more fertile, flatland parcels, while the JL Chave mainly comes from a steep hillside on the east facing flank of Hermitage hill, all done with the Chave masterful winemaking touch.  I think most agreed they would buy this wine, given the chance.  Thank you Keith for sharing this wine with us.

2013 Clape “Vin de Amis”–this was yet another wine everyone really seemed to fawn over.  The nose was classic northern Rhone Syrah–lavender, violets, raw meat, herbs, olives, green peppercorns, musk–explosive & so compelling.  In the mouth this wine was rich, surprisingly voluptuous without any sense of heaviness whatsoever, seamless & VERY savory, soulful & marvelous is the best word I could think of.  It had amazing wow factor without being Cru quality.   This is 100% Syrah produced from young Cornas vines & from a 1 hectare parcel of round river stone soils, just south of the village.  Definitely a wine worth seeking out, especially given the quality for dollar ratio!

2009 Matthieu Barrett Cornas “Les Terrasses du Serre”–Matthieu is a young winemaker of Cornas whose notoriety is meteorically growing amongst the sommelier community & press across the country.  (the Wine Spectator for instance is all over this wine & this domaine, rating it 95 points).  His domaine–Domaine du Coulet–owns roughly 10 hectares of Cornas vineyards, which means over 10% of the total AOC Cornas acreage, mainly in “gore” soils (decomposing granite).  His Les Terrasses du Serre bottling (1 of 4 he currently produces) is 100% Syrah–45 year old vines, 70% in oak (6 to 10 year old barrels) for 18 months & 30% in concrete egg.  I didn’t know what to make it of this wine at first, as it is much more about unrestrained power, density, fortitude–attributes that warrants the high scores & accolades.  While the gaminess & rustiness is toned down (thankfully for most tasters), & the winemaking very skillful, I then would question its meter on soulfulness, especially since I was brought up with Cornas from Verset, Clape & later Allemand.  After all is said & done, however, I would say, yes, there is a big niche for this wine.  It does make you stop, think & enjoy.  Plus, on line, the wine is listed at $59.99, which is substantially lower than those of Clape & Allemand.   Thank you Keith for sharing.

2014 Lionel Faury Côte Rôtie–we are big fans of this northern Rhone Valley domaine & its wines.  Philippe Faury started the domaine in 1979 & over the years grew his vineyard holdings to 11 hectares (last count).  I had even heard early on, they had acquired some of the breathtaking, steep St Joseph vineyards of Joseph Panel (another of my past favorites).  Son, Lionel, took over the reins, I was told, in 2006 (although his father still works side by side with him).  I love the purity/transparency of their wines as “there’s a real attention to detail here, and nothing is done in haste.  Every method used encourages the grape towards greatness with the ultimate respect for its fragility” as one writer appropriately noted.  “The vines were planted in 1993 & 2008, on steep slopes (with a grade of up to 45%) facing south by south-east, from two parcels in Côte Brune (Fourvier and Le Plomb).  The real compelling-ness of this wine really starts with its wonderful perfume–white & dark flower floridity, so enticing & fragrant with a core of provocative musk, sandalwood, earthy, smoky, exotic spice nuances.  On the palate, it is lovely, soothing, enchanting, somewhat velvety, despite its apparent masculinity.  Yup, a New Age Côte Rôtie, done in a more classical style, well worth seeking out.  Thank you Storm for sharing!

2014 Lionel Faury Côte Rôtie “Emporium”–in comparison, their “Emporium” bottling comes exclusively from their Fourvier lieu-dit & is VERY different.  I felt it to be more majestic & aristocratic….more pedigree–more compact, with more structure & impact.  It is “quietly” more showy, at least by their standards though NEVER as showy as those from Guigal, Chapoutier & other more modernists.  Both wines are 70 to 80% destemmed & aged in 220 & 600 liter barrels (Emporium for 27 months & the AOC for 18 months).  I was really taken with these wines.  Thank you Cheryle for sharing.

 

2005 Patrick Jasmin Côte Rôtie —This domaine is now run by the fourth generation of this family, extending back to the late 1800’s.  I first visited back in 1991, when Robert was still alive & running the domaine.  It was a very memorable visit, which is saying a lot for me when one considers I also visited–Chave, Gentaz Dervieux, Rene Rostaing, Verset & Clape, just to name a few Syrah highlights on that trip.  Robert was a burly, jovial & passionate man & what stuck in my mind from that initial visit, was that he owned but only 4 hectares of prime vineyards (today it is 5 hectares), where he co-planted both 96% Syrah ( a séléction massale known as “la vieille sérine”, championing this ancient version of the varietal, known for its beautiful aromatics, smaller berries and seeds, and lower yields) with 4% Viognier.  Robert used Burgundian barrels to age his wines (in different sizes) & since 1984 he said he started experimenting with new oak–10% with the 1989.  He also started bottling, per his U.S. importer, Kermit Lynch’s request, his wines unfiltered & unfined with the 1989 vintage.  I was fortunate to taste his Côte Rôtie back to 1978.  I loved its wild rusticity, its provocative musk, earth, savage character in the wines, each vintage, which were as burly, surly & masculine as he was.  This 2005 had a similar “cheesy” kind of edge, I later recalled from my early on tastes at the domaine with similar earthy, smoke, masculine qualities that I had also found in those early bottlings.  I would say, that the 2005 had a much stronger oak presence, but was well integrated.  This wine was just a reminder for me of where northern Syrah came from & a VERY different persona/style than that we tasted from Matthieu Barrett earlier.  It’s funny, back in 1991 & on that trip, Rene Rostaing’s wines stood out from the rest, because of his avid use back then of new French oak, whereas Jasmin’s wine totally fit in.  Today in comparison, Jasmin stands out from the rest, particularly this 13 year old one, because of its old style.  Thank you Jamm & Erica for sharing.

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Here are FOUR very interesting wines that not too many wine buyers would go looking for in a wine store, but I would say, each are worth experiencing. I had my first Irouléguy and Cahors in the 1980’s and my first Zweigelt in the early 1990’s AND, I still keep going back for more. Why? Because each are unique, interesting and authentic wines, which shed a very different light on what wine can be and each is from a family owned and run wine estate. I find it so fascinating when a winery incorporates the family’s culture and heritage into what they do, especially when new generations tweak without taking away from the integrity, typicity and soul of the wine. Please join us on this journey.

2015 Arretxea Irouléguy–66% Tannat, 17% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.  This masculine, savage, wildly rustic, savory red from the Basque area of southwestern France is a unique, authentic, family owned project reminiscent of the old days & ways.   Their steep, terraced land is amid beautifully lush wildflowers, set against the white peaks of the Pyrénées,The sandstone soils of Irouléguy are ideal for these grapes because they are streaked with iron oxide, mica, silica, limestone, clay, and dolomite. The mineral diversity lends an intensity to the wines, making them wild, earthy, tannic, and rich in spicy aromas.”

2015 Château La Grave Cahors–100% Malbec.  Cahors is the ancestral home of the Malbec grape variety.   Historically A.O.C. Cahors is known as the “black wine” of the Southwest—deeply inky, hearty, earthy wines”.

2013 Sattler Zweigelt “Reserve”–How often does one get to sample a top Austrian red wine?  “Zweigelt is Austria’s most widely planted red variety. It is is a cross of two traditional Austrian varieties St.Laurent and Blaufränkisch and produces some of Austria’s most interesting red wines. In this case, the estate vineyards are located around the village of Tadten in the winegrowing district of Neusiedlersee. Tadten is part of an enormous gravel bar that stretches more than five kilometers and the soils are therefore mineralic and layered with gravel, brown earth and occasionally sand”.

2010 Château Moulin “Canon-Fronsac”A throwback in style to the Old Days, when Bordeaux reds smelled and tasted like Bordeaux wines. This bottling is 100% Merlot grown in the clay limestone soils of Canon-Fronsac on the Right Bank of Bordeaux.

 

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Jul
16

A Tasting of Pinot Noir

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Last night we did a tasting of Pinot Noirs with the VINO staff & some of our wine friends.  We served the wines BLIND (again, not to guess anything, but instead just to assess the wine–whether it was good or not–why/why not–……how much would you pay retail for it……& what kinds of foods would it work with & why).   This was fun & quite insightful.  It is amazing what side by side tastings can help reveal.  (FYI–I eliminated those that didn’t show so well in this blog, just to keep things positive).

2016 CF Wines Pinot Noir “Santa Maria Valley”–The 2016 has just arrived into Hawaii & this was the first time our staff actually tried the wine.  Like the 2015, it was light in color–one could readily see through the wine–, had wonderfully alluring perfume (although there was fruit smells, it definitely had an underlying minerality/earth core, especially on the palate).  Yes, this wine was quite ethereal, savory, remarkably light on the palate, though very compelling, lovely, delicious, seamless AND UN-oaky, UN-heavy, UN-alcoholic–& therefore ideal with a wide range of foods it could work with.  I was very proud of the wine, & even more so because everyone liked it so much.  In fact, for many, it was the wine of the night, which was saying a lot, given the incredible line-up.  Thank you Gary Burk of Costa de Oro again for another wonderful vintage.  (I believe the first vintage was 2002 & with each vintage, the outcomes just seems to be getting better & better.  I really don’t completely understand how Gary does it!)

2012 Neely Pinot Noir “Spring Ridge Vineyard–Hidden Block” –while this wine was quite masculine & savory in style, it displayed a surprisingly light hue, which was very different than the last time I had had it.  It had dark kinds of fruit with a stoniness/base notes in the core, was seamless, suave & a wonderful drink.  On this night, this bottling showed so much better than what I have experienced from previous vintages, which were also very good, especially for the dollar.  It was also a popular selection on the night from the tasters.  (3 acres–roughly 700 feet in elevation, planted in 1997–Dijon clone 115–fractured sedimentary soils, no irrigation, NO herbicides/pesticides, wild yeast fermented, bottled unfiltered, unfined, for all 405 cases).

2016 Camino Pinot Noir “Umino Vineyard”–this is the handiwork & own project of Tadeo Borchart, winemaker of Neyers Vineyards.  The grapes come from Umino Vineyard in the Sebastopol Hills appellation, a very cool hillside (11 acres planted in 1996/1997 to Dijon clones & #459. though I am not sure what Tadeo actually gets) within the Sonoma Coast AVA.  This wine was not as showy as one would expect from Dijon clones & this neck of the woods, but that’s just Tadeo’s style.  Tasters all agreed it was very enjoyable–suave, classy & VERY well balanced, something to be thankful for in these parts & these days.

2016 Big Table Farm Pinot Noir “Willamette Valley”–When we opened Sansei in Seattle in I believe 2015, we made sure we included their wine onto the small, but well selected winelist.  While in Seattle recently, I was reminded this to be one of the hotshot wineries from Oregon by 2 of the finest wine stores there.  So, I bought a bottle to try.  The Oregon wines we had previously admired included top end projects such as Evening Land, Chapter 24 & more recently Lingua Franca, each interestingly feature superstar French consultants such as Dominique Lafon & Louis Michel Liger-Belair, as well as highly revered American wine professionals such as Master Sommelier Larry Stone, Rajat Parr & winemaker Sashi Moorman.  I originally searched out Big Table Farm because winemaker Brian Marcy did a stint at Neyers winery in the Napa Valley, a winery who does things in the vineyard & winery with Old World sensibilities & uber-sustainably.   NO big press & NO big star power, just a couple set to own an actual working farm, complete with animals & respect for the land, to which they added a winery.  (Maybe it was wine first, then came the farm).  The perfume was pretty, nuanced, alluring & compelling rather than showy or oaky.  On the palate, we loved the elegance, grace, transparency & balance of the wine.  It was delicious & very intriguing in a more civil, well balanced style.   This style of wine sometimes gets overlooked in side by side comparative tastings, especially ones like this with so many quality minded wines.  It grabbed my attention!

2016 Rose & Arrow Estate Pinot Noir “1st Highland Close–Chehalem Mountain”–I originally opened a single vineyard Oregon Pinot Noir for this slot, but was shaken in disbelief how much VA the wine overtly displayed, UNTIL I realized it was “barrel sample”.  My mistake.  (Barrel samples should be consumed as early on as possible, especially those using little sulfur).  So, to remedy the situation, I grabbed this bottle of wine, as I was scrambling around, searching for something to fill the slot.  In short, this wine was a revelation.  I was really taken by its supreme elegance, grace, class, texture & balance.  While the others tasted really good, this was CRU quality…..majestic & highly sophisticated.  I previously did not know what I was opening, so you can imagine my surprise & thrill after popping it open & tasting it!  OMG.  The “1st Highland Close” bottling is from 1.88 acres–very rocky & higher elevations–in the Chehalem Hills & crafted by team Chapter 24.  346 cases.

2014 Denis Jamain Reuilly Rouge–The appellation of Reuilly is located in the Central Vineyards of France’s Loire Valley.  Its nearby neighbors include the more recognizable Sancerre & Pouilly Fume.  Interestingly, one of Reuilly’s other neighbors, Quincy, was the 2nd appellation approved by the French government in the 1936 AOC declaration (even before anything from Bordeaux, Burgundy or Champagne!).  The point being, this area has been noted for growing & making noteworthy wines for quite some time.  I would add to that, that the notoriety was more for the white wines back then, pre-“warming of the planet” & its effects of more sun drenched vintages & therefore the increase in frequency of red wine production & the subsequent higher acclaim.  While the soils of Sancerre & Pouilly Fume are a mix of limestone, sand, gravel & marl to the clay, Jamain’s Reuilly vineyards feature Kimmeridgian limestone soils, very similar in profile to those found in Chablis.  As wine lovers well know, the white wines of Chablis, at its best, offer such purity, divine minerality, etherealness & lightness on the palate, so very different from the other Burgundy Chardonnays to the south.  Jamain’s Reuilly similarly offers this kind of character in their white wines, intertwined with the traits of Sauvignon Blanc.  On the red side, their Pinot Noir based reds similarly are light colored & weighted, more ethereal, leaner, firmer, lower in alcohol & therefore much more quaffable & food friendly in style.  Not for everyone, but certainly a treat for us to try.

2015 Meyer Näkel Spätburgunder “Ahr”–I vividly remember my first experience with this producer & his wines back in the late 1980’s, they were that good!  I was also quite in awe when I traveled there in the early 1990’s when seeing their vineyards & just talking story with Werner.  While many of the top echelon of German winemakers have a real precise, more scientific edge, I instantly found Werner Näkel, to be more engaging, which makes sense since he was previously a school teacher before taking over the reins of this iconic estate.  That first encounter was, in fact, a big welcome party, complete with a big tent, lots of wine, simple pupus & lots of talking story & laughter with at least 50 to 60 people.  I was again quite taken by his Pinots, & on this night, especially his “S” bottling.  These were definitely wines to be taken seriously, at a time when German Pinot Noir was almost as a novelty, with exceptions from Joachim Heger from Baden & Paul Fürst from Franconia.  Meyer Näkel is located in the Ahr region, the most northerly of all of the winegrowing regions of Germany.  They have 3 noteworthy Cru vineyards–2 featuring some blue slate to the base & the other gray slate to the base.  That is why I often get a slate-y character in the wines & the wines over all have a distinct minerality to them.  Werner was selected 2004 “Gault Millau Winemaker of the Year” & deservedly so.  The wines feature a masculinity in their core, but are nonetheless seamless & well balanced.

2014 François Lumpp Givry Premier Cru, “Petit Marole”–François Lumpp is located in Givry within the Côte Chalonnaise of Burgundy, France.  Because of the ever rising prices of the noteworthy Pinot Noir based red wines, especially from the Côte de Nuits & its iconic villages such as Chambolle Musigny, Gevrey Chambertin & Vosne Romanee, we are always looking elsewhere & digging around for gems, which offer quality at more affordable prices.  Here is one which recently came on to our radar screen.  While, this wine will never be confused with any of these more renown, iconic villages by any means, one can’t help but appreciate the wonderful transparency, pretty & ethereal qualities of this wine.  Yes, I adore Pinots which are alluring, classy, refined & delicately nuanced.  This is that kind of wine AND we were all quite surprised at its reasonable price.

2015 Ganevat Pinot Noir “Cuvée Julien”–“Jean-François Ganevat is a master of his craft, one of the true magicians of the eclectic. To say that his grapes are spun into gold would not be far from the truth; they are entirely otherworldly.”  Ganevat works with vineyards in the Jura region of eastern France, each at varying elevation, steepness grades & facings.  I therefore thought why not throw in one of his extremely hard to get wines just to provide a different perspective & hopefully create a stir.  Cuvée Julien comes from a 7 hectare parcel of limestone-clay, which was planted in 1977.  Its done via whole cluster & aged for 12 months in oak.  The resulting wine is NOT oaky, but one can readily tell it is framed by oak.  This wine has a mesmerizing purity/transparency, wonderful, soothing texture, bountiful sublime nuances which just appears with each swirl & sip.   Yes, this was a wine to behold & I think referring to it as entirely otherworldly is most apropos.

2000 François Jobard Blagny “La pièce sous le bois”–François Jobard has been one of my favorite producers out of Burgundy for a long time, though mainly for his Cru white Meursaults.  Over the years he also produced this bottling of red wine, which was always hit or miss for me.  It wasn’t about the quality of what’s in the bottle at all.  I find/found this bottling to be very moody with more downs than ups.  Someone in the know once lamented to me that this wine just doesn’t travel well at all.  Makes sense to me, because usually when I taste it, it is so closed & unforgivingly hard, even more so than their white wines can be.  On the other hand, I once tried a 1996, which was re-released from the winery in the mid to late 2000’s that I thought to myself–“finally”!  Well, unfortunately the other 11 bottles of the case, were closed & hard.  There is no doubt the wine has vinosity & complexities, but they are so hidden.  I even had a 2002 & a 1995 in the past couple of weeks & walked away scratching my head in bewilderment.  The 2000, on the other hand, on this night was halfway open.  It had a murky, masculine, tight fisted perfume that I thought was captivating once the bottle stink aired away.  In the mouth, it was NOT welcoming or delicious in any sense, but this wine had good structure, vinosity in the core & was finely detailed, just tight fisted & still quite hard.  The partially open nose still made it a wine well worth trying.  Sadly this vineyard has been redone with Chardonnay, so whatever bottles are out there is the last of this bottling.  Thank you Helen & Brent for sharing.  I always love the opportunity to try a wine from François Jobard.

Categories : General, Red, Wine, Wine Thoughts
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