Rhône Tasting

•November 21, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Domaine de Montvac
Vacqueyras Blanc “Melodine” 2010
(roussane 40%, clairette 40%, bourboulenc 10%, viognier 10%)
nose of tropical fruits, ripe bananas and peaches. palate starts with candied lemon and orange peel and becomes more focused and linear on the long finish.

Vacqueyras “Vincila” 2007
(grenache 60%, syrah 40%)
nose is intense and starts herbaceous, with dried rosemary and marjoram and turns to black olive tapenade with dried red and black fruits. the palate is full-boded, with a round texture and ripe fruit but well-balanced. long finish, with dried red fruits leading.

Domaine des Espiers
Côtes du Rhône Blanc “Les Diablotines” 2010
(roussane 50%, clairette 50%)
waxy, apricot-driven nose with a little bit of sandalwood. the palate opens bright but full with lemon oil and turns more towards caramelized sugar on the surprisingly long finish.

Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2009
(grenache 70%, mourvèdre 20%, syrah 10%)
intense nose, cherries and strawberries with balsamic vinegar and black pepper, road tar. the palate is full and rich yet angular and spicy – good balance. finished with dried red fruits and black pepper.

Gigondas 2009
(grenache 65%, syrah 35%)
nose of ripe black cherries, road tar and black pepper, smoked meats. the palate is full but has good lift and balance. dried red fruits and spices, dried herbs and a bit of glycerine baby fat. ample but ripe and fine grained tannins.

Domaine Roger Perrin
Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc 2010
(grenache blanc 50%, clairette 25%, roussanne 20%, bourboulenc 5%)
wild nose – tropical fruits, wax, grilled lamb fat, lemon and pine oil, hot and sweaty. the palate opens up sweet and full but with good acids. grilled bananas and pineapple turn to gamier, meatier notes on the long finish.

Châteauneuf du Pape “Réservé des Vieilles Vignes” 2007
(grenache 70%, syrah 15%, mourvèdre 10%, counoise 5%)
intense black cherries on the nose with smoked meat, raw meat, beef’s blood. huge palate – black fruit liqueur, but the sweetness is countered by an intense savory and bitter component – intense agrodolce thing gong on here. the finish is long and grows both brighter and fresher and spicier. long life ahead of this one.

Domaine Gourt de Mautens
Rasteau 2000
(100% fucking awesomeness)
nose is ripe, intense black cherry liqueur, india ink, road tar – but amazingly fresh. palate is very intense and rich, with ripe red and black fruits, black olive tapenade, cinnamon and cedar spice notes. longs finish turns towards a whole palette of both dried and fresh herbs and spices. superb. ample but ripe and somewhat resolved tannins. could go another ten years. wine of the night.

Rasteau 2007
(grenache 70%, carignan 10%, mourvèdre 10%, remaining 10% syrah, counoise, muscardin and vaccarese)
intense nose, ripe black fruits and black pepper and aged sweet balsamic vinegar. intensely spicy palate with lots of white pepper and garrigue. good acids make the palate show more towards red fruits than the nose shows. very fine tannins with a long and spicy finish with some cedar.

Chateau Maucoil
Châteauneuf du Pape 2009
nose of spicy red fruits with some intensely floral stuff going on, very pretty. palate is very spicy and angular, with good acid and tannin – bright red fruits and dried herbs. very good but very young

Châteauneuf du Pape  “Privilège” 2006
really intense nose – black cherries, game meat, sweet leathery notes, roasted meat. palate is very full and round with dried black fruits and leather but with a great top note of dried orange peel and clove/cinnamon spice.

Châteauneuf du Pape  “Privilège” 2007 (from magnum)
insane nose – gamy, funky, animalistic, brooding – almost evil. palate is a mix of dried herbs and fresh red fruits, cinnamon and clove, bit of oak. long finish with a nice bit of sea salt and sandalwood at the end.

Châteauneuf du Pape  “l’Esprit de Maucoil” 2000 (from magnum)
black cherry liqueur and sweet leather on the nose with an intense raw meat note. palate is very full and rich. still young, with lots of high notes, lots of white pepper. finish is really long and savory with clove ginger and sandalwood. seems like this is really peaking right now.

Domaine de la Vieille Julienne
Côtes du Rhône Blanc “Lieu-dit Clavin” 2010
(grenache blanc, bourbourlenc, clairette, and marsanne)
ripe nose of peaches, bananas, apricots, dried lemon peel. intense, viscous texture to the palate, with lemon oil and mint. long finish.

Côtes du Rhône Blanc “Lieu-dit Clavin” 2009
(grenache 70%, syrah 20%, mourvèdre 10%)
nose of dried herbs, grilled lamb and dried red fruits. very spicy and savory palate with dried red fruits and nice sweetness to the mid-palate to play a counterpoint to the spicier and more savory elements.

Châteauneuf du Pape 2005
(grenache 60%, syrah 15%, mourvèdre 10%, counoise 10%, cinsault 5%)
dried red fruits and caramelized sugar on the nose with a savory top note of sea-salt. big palate – fresh and dried red fruits, black pepper and dried flower petals, garrigue, black olives. good acid and tannin. very well knit.

Châteauneuf du Pape 2006
Ripe black fruit and licorice on the nose with a leathery note as well. Palate starts with ripe red fruit. Lots of focus and penetration. texture is ripe and full but with good tannins and a lot of pepper on the mid-palate. long finish.

Châteauneuf du Pape 2007
Nose of ripe black fruits with lots of black pepper. the palate is very full and round but well-knit with ample tannins and good balance. lots of grip but the fruit grows sweeter and more viscous on the long finish.

Châteauneuf du Pape 2008
intense tomato leaf and spice on the nose with black olives and rosemary. the palate is similarly spicy and angular. tannic. long, herbaceous finish sweetened by dried red fruit and black olive flavors.

Châteauneuf du Pape Réservé 2005
very intense nose with both baked and fresh red and black fruits, india ink, clove and a very unusual sweet mineral note. huge palate, tones of sweet black fruit and glycerine framed by substantial but ripe and fine-grained tannins. long finish. good spiciness and lift at the end. could go another 10 years.

Châteauneuf du Pape Réservé 2006
very intense but high-toned nose, gamy and spicy with notes of bitter cherries. full, sweet red fruit on the palate with a leafy spiciness and a hint of leather. fine tannins and a good core of black fruit at the mid-palate. long finish. still young.


Burgundy Tasting

•November 1, 2011 • Leave a Comment


a bunch of Burgundy from a tasting in the office on October 24th.

Romain Bouchard Domaine de la Grande Chaume
Chablis “le Grand Bois” 2009
mint, wet stone, preserved lemons on the nose. the palate is intense and full-bodied yet very focused, redolent of lemon verbena. long finish grows broader, with lemon curd and hints of cinnamon. really good for the money.

Chablis 1er Cru Vau de Vey 2009
nose of wet asphalt and stone with some dried herbs. the palate is very full-bodied with lots of sweet peach fruit and fresh orange peel countered by a tremendous aside and saline backbone. lots of point/counterpoint in this one.

Domaine Roger Belland
Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot-Clos Pitois 2008
intense peppermint nose with hints of caramelized sugar sand baked apples. huge and intense palate with candied lemon peel and darker hints of butterscotch. lots of push-pull between the citrus and baked fruit elements.

Santenay 1er Cru Beauregard 2008
spicy, plummy nose. baked red fruits lead on the palate with some christmas spices and hint of leather. good acids overall, some bitter cherry fruit on the finish. a little light in body.

Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge 1er Cru Morgeot-Clos Pitois 2008
ripe cherries on the nose with hints of coffee and black pepper. the palate is ripe yet expressive with good fruit and spice with a hint of a bitter counterpoint. present but very fine-grained tannins.

Domaine Jean-Michel Gaunoux
Meursault 2008
nose of ripe apples and pears, white cherries, very fresh. great acids on the palate. bitter lemon on the attack gets broader and more mellow with baked apples and pears, some caramel on the finish. very well-knit and complete.

Meursault 1er Cru Perrières 2005
the nose on this is insane – pine oil, mushrooms – i could smell this all day. the palate is very full, opens with candied lemon peel and great acids, broadens out and turns to creme brulee on the long finish. beginning, middle and end – the full package.

Meursault 1er Cru Perrières 2007
sea-salt and preserved lemons on the nose with some mint and eucalyptus notes. intense, very high-toned palate opens very lemony but draws open to more peach and tree fruit flavors on the long finish. still very young but very good.

Meursault 1er Cru Genevrières 2007
lemon peel and soy sauce on the nose, very savory. Palate is also very savory, salted lemons with lip-smacking acidity, almost Chablis-like. very tart but not short. young and could go a long way.

Meursault 1er Cru Les Gouttes d’Or 2007
very intense and complex nose with mushrooms, soy, both fresh and baked apples, hints of pine. very bright, minerally palate opens with citrus fruits and turns to white cherries and strawberries. long finish that stays very focused and fresh.

Puligny-Montrachet 1er Les Folatières 2007
nose of peaches and stone fruit with a hint of salinity. the palate opens up with intensely sweet citrus and peach fruits balanced by tremendous acid and minerality. almost riesling-like push-pull between the sweet and savory. unusual and perhaps atypical but really fucking good.

Meursault Rouge ‘Les Criots” 2007
intense black cherries and blackberries on the nose, with sweet leathery notes, very sexy. palate starts off very high-toned but with good body and tannin, crushed red and black fruits, turns brighter again on the finish.

Domaine Delegrange
Volnay Vieilles Vignes 2009
the nose is bright but round, with bing cherry and a hint of funk. Cherries on the palate with good acids and some candied red fruits on the finish.

Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Chenes 2008
high-toned, cherry-themed nose with hints of fennel. the palate is lean and angular, very savory. Lots  of minerality and focus. good length – acids carry the finish. very nervy but good.

Volnay 1er Cru Les Champans 2009
meaty, funky nose with some black pepper. ripe black cherries on the palate, good tannins and some black pepper and spice on the finish.

Pommard Les Vaumuriens Hauts 2009
funky and animalistic nose, dried fruits and leather, very sexy. Palate is dense and very intense with dried red fruits, good tannins and good length.

Pommard 1er Cru Les Bertins 2009
smoked meat, black pepper and dried red fruits on the nose. palate is full, very broad yet very bright and focused. good tannins surround ripe red fruits with a bit of freshly tanned leather on the long finish.

Domaine Tortochot
Morey St. Denis 2009
intensely spicy, cherry themed nose with bits of white pepper and licorice. Palate is ripe, broad, but bright with bing cherry flavors leading.

Gevrey-Chambertin “les Corvees” 2009
dark cherry and coffee on the nose, but with good lift, not too dark or murky. palate is fresh and bright but very full with a good mix of tannic grip and glycerine baby fat.

Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux St. Jacques 2009
intense leather and spice on the nose with dried cherries, a hint of coffee. very fruity on the attack and in the midpalate, lots of body and tannin right now. long finish.

Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Champeaux 2009
intense cherry nose, with some coffee grounds and a top note of dried, crushed flower petals. very full-bodied with ample, fine-grained tannins. long finish with lots of dried red fruits.

Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2009
intense nose showing a little oaky right now. black cherries, leather, hint os smoke and cinnamon. big wine, good tannins, with some christmas spices. finish is long and turns to more bitter cherry and savory flavors.

Mazy-Chambertin Grand Cru 2009
Intense cherry, raspberry, blackberry fruit on the nose, with some espresso powder and spice notes. very intense but very pure fruit on the attack that grows both sweeter and yet more savory on the long finish. the full package.

Le Chambertin Grand Cru 2009
intense nose, exploding out of the glass. soft crushed red and black fruits, very open and very sexy, hints of cola syrup and cinnamon, flower petals. very intense palate, big but focused and high-toned. long finish grows more savory.

Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2009
dark, intense, masculine nose – spices, leather. very full-bodied. ample but ripe tannins. dried black fruits lead into the long, smoky, spicy and savory finish.

Viña Sastre – Ribero del Duero

•October 17, 2011 • Leave a Comment

From a trip to Viña Sastre in 2007…most of the wines tasted were from the freakishly hot 2003 vintage. It was a great pleasure to meet Jesus Sastre – this is a guy who is doing the whole “natural” winemaking thing while still making massive, intense, and unashamedly masculine wines. Proof that using ambient yeasts and farming using biodynamic principles doesn’t necessarily mean that you are an effeminate moongazing hippie making wines completely devoid of any fruit character suitable for the no-fun zone.

all wines are 100% tempranillo save for the Pesus

Roble Ribero del Duero 2005

Cherry, plummy, sweet oak, subtly spiced fruit on the nose. Palate of dark cherry and chocolate, plenty of acids and tannin with a little bit of herbaceaousness from the oak on the finish.


Crianza 2003

Smoke, tar, black fruit, almost california cabernet-like nose. Very full-bodied, jammy black fruit on the palate with hints of barbecue smoke. Very fine-grained tannins. Long finish grows brighter with plummier red fruit flavors.


Pago de Santa Cruz 2003

Sweet black fruit and sweet oak on the nose. Black and red fruits on the palate with very bright notes on the back end. Lots of tannins still extremely young. Very long finish.


Regina Vides 2003

Sweet red fruit with vanilla, woodsmoke and cinnamon on the nose. Darker fruit on the palate with some good minerality and smokiness. Lots of tannin. Bloody, meaty notes, especially on the finish with some baked plums on the back end.


Pesus 2003 (70% tempranillo, 10% cabernet, 10% merlot, 10% petit verdot)

Intensely sweet, almost port-like nose. Black fruit, licorice, cocoa powder. Toasted oak and intense red fruits on the palate. Immense body and tannin.


Pago de Santa Cruz Gran Reserva 1996 

Cinnamon and sea salt on the nose, with some dried red fruit. Palate for dried red and black fruits with tons of minerality. A great musky, spicy, funky sweetness on the very long finish.

Tenuta di Trinoro and Passopisciaro

•July 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

had the chance recently to taste through a quasi-vertical and horizontal of the Tuscan and Sicilian estates owned by Andrea Franchetti.

Franchetti's estate in Sarteano


Guardiola Bianco 2010 (100% chardonnay)
Intense nose of lemon curd and white flowers, salted peaches. The palate is full-bodied and very round but with great acids. Fruit reminiscent of white cherries, orange peel. Finish is long and with increasing minerality.

Scinirri 2010 (60% nerello mascalese, 30% cesanese d’affile and 10% petit verdot)
Intense, spicy nose, with black pepper, tomato leaf, dried red fruits. Palate is fresh and spicy, high-toned red cherry fruits with a bit of pencil lead/graphite minerality. Ample but fine-grained tannins.

Passopisicaro 2008 (100% nerello mascalese)
Soft but spicy nose with white pepper, cinnamon, cocoa powder framing fresh red berried fruit. Bing cherries and dried orange peel lead on the palate. Great acidity and very fine grained tannins make for some good grip with the medium body.

Contrada Rampante 2009 (100% nerello mascalese)
Very high-toned cherry nose with and underlying hint of funk. Very tight and tannic on the attack. Good acids. Sour cherries and dried herbs with a hint of salinity on the palate, notes of dried rosemary and thyme. Finish is long but subtle and increases in roundness and fruitiness.

Contrada Sciaranuova 2009 (100% nerello mascalese)
Funky, spicy, herbaceous nose, with a hint of pine oil. Opens tannic, with dried cherries and cranberries but opens up and becomes rounder, fleshier and fruitier on the long finish.

Contrada Porcaria 2009 (100% nerello mascalese)
Nose is full of bing cherries, hints of leather and cola syrup. Texture is very full-bodied and mouth-coating. Flavors of black cherries and raspberries with closing notes of black pepper. Ripe, well-integrated tannins.

Contrada Chiappemacine 2009 (100% nerello mascalese)
Nose of ripe black cherries with some funky horseshit/farm funk on the top end. Very full-bodied but very tannic, with lots of peppery spice, bright cherry and raspberry flavors. Very young and closed right now.

Franchetti 2009 (80% cesanese d’affile, 20% petit verdot)
Very intense nose, raspberry syrup and road tar with some sous bois, underbrush spice. Palate is of intense, sweet black fruit but with a great meatiness and savory quality as a counterpoint. Lots of tannin but again balanced out by some good glycerin and baby fat. Long finish.

Tenuta di Trinoro
Tenuta di Trinoro 1997 (60% cabernet franc, 20% merlot, 10% cabernet sauvignon, 10% petit verdot)
Deep ruby color with slight bricking at the rim. Intense nose of fresh red fruits and leather, “fresh box of band aids” funk. Palate is full-bodied and rich with resolved yet present tannins. Dried red fruits and flower petals on the palate with white pepper, leather and slight smokiness on the long finish.  Almost peaking but should definitely have significant life for a few more years.

Tenuta di Trinoro 1999  (70% cabernet franc, 20% merlot, 6% cabernet sauvignon,4% petit verdot)
Funky, herbaceous nose, with notes of pickled fruit, underbrush and woodsmoke. Full-bodied, sweet red fruit, creamy texture with lots of high-end funkiness. Good acids. Long, angular and complex finish with lots of minerality and cigar-box notes.

Tenuta di Trinoro 2006 (51.5% merlot, 30.5% cabernet franc, 9% cabernet sauvignon, 9% petit verdot)
Black fruit liqueur on the nose. Very ripe palate but balanced out by the ample yet ripe tannins. Sweet red and black fruit with some hints of leather. Long finish has good lift and increases in freshness.

Tenuta di Trinoro 2007 (40% cabernet franc, 30% merlot, 20% cabernet sauvignon, 10% petit verdot)
Sweet black fruits with freshly tanned leather on the nose. Very intense palate with lots of rich baked red and black fruits, but with great acidity and minerality. Very complete – very fine tannins. Lots of black fruit on the long finish with some nice grip.

Palazzi 2009 (100% merlot)
Ripe bing cherries on the nose with some high-toned, savory notes of the seashore – sea salt, sandalwood. Very intense palate – very full bodied – baked fruit, some caramelized sugar, very ripe but ample tannins with a little white pepper on the finish.

Figge Cellars

•June 21, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Figge Cellars 

met with Peter Figge of Figge Cellars a few weeks ago and tasted through the current releases. very terroir-driven stuff, as Peter was a vineyard manager before becoming a winemaker.

2009 La Reina Vineyard Chardonnay (Santa Lucia Highlands)
nose opens with tons of fresh mint, slight notes of caramelized sugar, with high notes of white flowers and candied orange peel. palate has tremendous acidity, full-bodied with baked apples and pears, nicely high-toned spicy oak. long finish.

2009 Pelio Vineyard Chardonnay  (Monterey)
nose of lemon zest with notes of sea salt and wet rocks. very high-toned palate with great acids and a nice savory, saline tang. lots of lemon and lime. long finish with some spicy notes at the end.

2009 Paraiso Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands)
baked plums, black pepper on the nose with tons of spicy and herbaceous notes – black pepper, eucalyptus, rosemary. palate is full of bright red fruits, with raspberry and cranberry leading. good acids and good focus.

2009 Pelio Vineyard Pinot Noir (Monterey)
intense nose, with black cherry and christmas spices, cinnamon and allspice.
intense bing cherry palate. ample tannins with a long finish that turns to sweet leather and grilled meats. minerality grows on the finish as well.

2007 Sycamore Flat Vineyard Syrah (Arroyo Seco)
sweet black fruits on the nose, tons of black pepper and flowers as well. meaty, leathery, funky, intense. ample but very ripe, fine-grained and juicy tannins. long finish.

Bodegas Ostatu – Rioja Alavesa

•June 9, 2011 • Leave a Comment

some notes from a visit to Bodegas Ostatu a few years ago, located in the town of Samaniego in the Rioja Alavesa. again a special thanks to Andre Tamers and De Maison Selections.

Rioja Blanco Joven 2006 
90% viura, 10% malvasia
Citrusy, stony, floral nose. Sweet citrus and peaches on the palate with high acids and good length.

Rioja Crianza Tinto 2004
90% tempranillo, 10% graciano and mazuelo
black fruit, tons of spice and smoke on the nose – very dark in color. full-bodied, tannic but creamy in texture, dark black fruit. good acids. long finish.

Rioja Reserva 2003
100% tempranillo
sweet red fruits on nose, sweet oak, almost Cali pinot-like nose. dense palate, ripe juicy tannins, tons of spice, long finish.

Rioja Reserva 2004 (barrel sample)
100% tempranillo
slightly reduced nose, mineral and meaty, smoky. super dense palate, stewed red fruits with tons of tannin and good acids. great overall texture.

Rioja “Gloria de Ostatu” 2003
dark opaque purple color. intensely fruity nose with sweet spices, intense, multilayered, very fruity yet complex on the palate. very modern but very sexy. certain high-tones remind me of Snapple iced tea…

Rioja “Gloria de Ostatu” 2004
very young, super-tight and toasty oak on the nose. very gamy and spicy, super concentrated and oaky – bitter cherry fruit – reminds me of a super-modern Barolo

Rioja “Ladera de Portillo” 2005
97% tempranillo, 3% viura
intense, creamy, fruity nose, vanilla custard and cherries, cola and spice. dark cherry vanilla fruit with lots of pepper, very fine, dusty tannins.

some older Muscadets from Jean Aubron

•June 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

special thanks to Michel Robert Abood of Vinotas Selections for importing these

Jean Aubron Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie “Grand Fief de l’Audigiere” Vielles Vignes 2003
Intense saline quality with white fleshed fruits on the nose. Crunchy acidity – medium-bodied, citrus, some stone fruits with chalky, minerally overtones. Still somewhat young with great typicity and varietal character, very easy to pin as muscadet despite the age.

Jean Aubron Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie “Grand Fief de l’Audigiere” Vielles Vignes 2001
Super-intense, honeyed nose, very chenin-blanc like with even a bit of the “wet wool” cliché. Color is a striking deep gold. Super high acid, with peaches, grilled lemons, long finish with a slight cheese/dairy note. Body seems at first very light-weight at first but grows in breadth and gains a lot of cling on the finish.

Jean Aubron Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie “Grand Fief de l’Audigiere” Vielles Vignes 1997
Stinky, stanky, funky almost fecal nose with high notes of minerals and wet rocks. Cinammon and black pepper. The nose is absolutely nuts. Very light color almost water-white. Mid-weight body with a lot of concentration on the mid-palate. Insanely salty, the savory and umami character outshining even the substantial acids present. The finish is long and gains weight and viscosity.