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Archive for September, 2008

The Montirius domain is in the south of the Vacqueyras appellation and has been under the ownership of the Saurel family for 5 generations. In 1996, they fully converted the vineyard to biodynamic methods and released their first biodynamic wine in 1999. Their wines are made entirely in large concrete tanks without any wood to showcase the purity of the fruit.

The Montirius 1999 Gigondas placed number 13 on The Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list a number of years ago and it seems as though their wines get good press with every vintage.

Le Cadet is a vin de pays de Vaucluse made from the classic Rhône bluend of Grenache, Syrah, a touch of Cinsault, and about 10% Merlot. The Le Cadet vineyard is located geographically within the Vacqueyras AC, but is classified as a VdP because of its lower elevation.

The grenache comes through on the nose with notes of strawberry, raspberry and white pepper. Strawberry, blackcurrant, raspberry, violet, white pepper with some spicy green pepper, leather, stems, earth and mushroom characteristics on the palate. A bit austere, medium bodied and approachable with good acidity and finish.

I thought this was well made, approachable and very enjoyable — and comparable to many Côtes du Rhônes that cost $13-15 a bottle or more. Recommended and a great value.

It is a bit more expensive, but I thought the Montirius Vacqueyras Garrigues 2005 was outstanding.

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I  wasn’t very optimistic about this wine, I opened a bottle of it about 16 months ago and was disappointed. I thought that my pessimism might not be warranted given my recent experience with the Bonny Doon Vineyard DEWN Mourvedre Contra Costa County 2000. Perhaps Bonny Doon’s wines really are made for the long haul and my last bottle was just one bad apple.

The last 8 years have not been kind to this BDV Syrah. There isn’t much fruit or body left to it. It tasted old, musty and lifeless and I couldn’t bring myself to have more than a glass of it.

Sorry, it does hurt me to say it — those that know me would say that I am a fan of Bonny Doon Vineyard and Randall Grahm. I do remember tasting this around the year 2000 and thinking it was a very good Syrah, but it certainly didn’t hold up very well.

Bonny Doon Old Telegram 2004
Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant 1998
Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant Blanc 2005
Bonny Doon Contra Costa Mouvedre 2000 (DEWN)

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This is a 2000 Contra Costa Mouvedre that I acquired while I was still a DEWN (Distinct Esoteric Wine Network) member. I spotted it in the process of packing up and organizing my wine for the move.

Given that my recent experience has not been so great with cellaring some of Bonny Doon’s wines more than 5-6 years, I assumed this might not be box and transport worthy to the new address which will become home. I opened it with limited expectations, assuming it might have already seen its best days. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised.

There is some nice candied fruit on the nose with notes of raspberry, strawberry and some stewed cherry, anise and garrigue components. On the palate, bright red fruit with baked cherry, strawberry and cranberry with some earth, mushroom and mocha. Medium body, food-friendly with velvety tannins, nice acidity and soft underlying minerality. It certainly is mature, but still has a hint of youth. I would certainly enjoy this in the next year if I had more.

This label was designed by Gary Taxali. Gary was born in 1968 in Chandigarh, India and a year later, he and his family immigrated to Toronto, Canada. At the encouragement of his parents, Gary enrolled in art classes as a child — which eventually led him to pursue an art education. In 1991, he graduated from the Ontario College of Art and immediately began working as a professional illustrator.

Gary has done a number of labels for Bonny Doon. I think the Mourvedre might be my favorite, though I would give honorable mention to the 2001 Freisa.  It might be the only wine label that ever has (and ever will) feature a character that is not only picking his nose but also consuming found treasures.

My next decision, a Bonny Doon 1998 Estate Syrah. To pack or not to pack? I know there is also a bottle of the 2001 Freisa. Will it be totally repugnant or immensly appetizing? Stay tuned.

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This wine is made by Jacques Castany and Pascal Dieunidou. Production is fairly limited and their wines are not very easy to find, but are said to be worth seeking out. Their first vintage was in 2002 and I believe they make 4 different wines (3 reds and a white). I have some of their reds from  2004, 2005 and 2006, but this was the first bottle of their wine I have had.

The 2004 L’Aibre is half Syrah and 25% Carignan and 25% Grenache. It is inky purple in color with rich aromatics of black cherry, cassis, blackberry, black pepper, licorice and forest floor.

Meaty, seductively rich and concentrated on the palate. Loaded with cherry, black cherry, black raspberry reduction and some herbaceousness, earth, espresso and pine elements. Initially, I thought the wine was a little heavy on the oak, but it showed better on the second night. I decanted the wine the first evening for a couple of hours. I would probably decant for 8-10 hours if I were to open another 2004, but I will do my best not to touch a bottle for another 5-7 years. This has a lot of potential, and was one of the better wines that I have had this year. Recommended.

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Great aromatics, the nose is loaded with blackberry, kirsch, currant, and violet.

Great concentration on the palate. Supple and fat, generous offerings of dark fruit with black currant, blackberry and black raspberry. Crushed rock and graphite with oak and a hint of smoke and vanilla. Lush and seductive but also refined, impressive balance and structure with a long finish.

This is from a small estate (the Saint-Emilion appellation is just 6.5-acres). It is 100%  Merlot from 45-50 year old vines planted in light gravel/sandy soils not far from Monbousquet and Valandraud. There were 525 cases of this wine produced in 2003. The estate is family owned and operated with Denis Barraud in charge since 1971. Lysolence is named for his daughter Sandra. The passion and detail is apparent listening to Denis and reading his words — and it certainly is also captured in the bottle. I thought this was an impressive bottle of wine, that probably will show even better in 3-5 years. Recommended.

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The 2007 Viognier from Charles Smith was fermented with native yeasts (as are all the K Vintner wines) in neutral oak. Beautiful Viognier characteristics on the nose with white flowers, honey suckle, apricot, white peach and nectarine.

On the palate, stone fruits with some poached pear, apple butter, honey suckle with a touch of mango and citrus. It is not extremely bright or crisp, but more seductive and stylish with soft underlying minerality. Well balanced and certainly not overdone, but seems a bit hollow across the mid-palate but still manages a long, pure finish.

I’m not sure I liked this quite as much as the Melville Estate or the McPrice Myers Viogniers, but it is very well made, approachable, food friendly and a great expression of Viognier from Washington State. I bought this for just under $19 a bottle, though I have seen it priced as high as $27, and it is certainly worth recommending if you can find it at $20 a bottle.

It is also worth noting that the latest Syrah’s from Charles Smith have also been getting some rave reviews. Vew current offerings from K Vitners and Charles Smith.

Other posts on K Vintners and Charles Smith:
K Vintners Roma 2002
K Vintners Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2007

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In 1931 an Italian Francis Usseglio left Italy and went to Chateauneuf du Pape and got a job working in the vineyards. In 1948, after the war, he got his own property.

Francis had two sons, Pierre and Raymond. Pierre got his father’s property and Raymond established another estate.

The third generation is in now in charge of both estates. The sons of Pierre Usseglio, Jean-Pierre and Thierry run Domaine Pierre Usseglio and Stephanie runs Domaine Raymond Usseglio.

Domaine Pierre Usseglio consists of 22 hectacres divided into 15 different parcels in the appellation. Half of the vines are about 60 years old and the rest are about 30 years old. The Red Chateauneuf du Pape is usually made from 75 % Grenache and the rest Syrah, Cinsault and Mourvèdre. It is aged in oak casks for 12-18 months depending of the vintage.

Ruby red with a touch of copper in color. On the nose, there are some earthy and barnyard elements with sour cherry, rhubarb and stewed fruit characteristics. On the palate, roasted cherry, strawberry, some black licorice, plum and prune with stewed rhubarb, leather with a touch of pine, herbaceousness and a bit musty. Structured and tannic, but a bit thin. A good CDP, but I have to say that I was a bit disappointed and expect there are better CDPs at this price point.

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