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Archive for October, 2008

“All of Pierre’s wines are a testament to the know-how of Gaillard and there is not a single weakness in the bunch.” La Revue du Vins de France 2007

Someone wrote that Pierre’s wines win hearts in the youth, but lack for nothing in terms of future potential. His winemaking approach seems to be rooted in the traditional, but also modern. His wines are consistently excellent and some of the greatest quality/value plays in the entire Rhône. Gaillard earned his top tier ranking through his hard work, talent and dedication.

Pierre Gaillard got into the wine business at a very young age. His first vineyard was the Chardonnay vines he planted in his parents’ garden. Later he worked at Guigal and Vidal Fleury. He was a force at Guigal in the 1980s, helping to create La Turque which became a benchmark vineyard in Cote Rotie. By 1981, he had saved enough money for his first parcel of land in the St Joseph region. The plot was called Clos de Cuminaille. The land had a 30 degree slope to it, but he was able to carve out some terraces so he could use a tractor.

St Joseph is part of the northern Rhône which is just to the south of Lyon. The northern Rhône includes such well-known appellations as Hermitage, Cote Rotie and Cornas. St Joseph covers about 50 kilometer and runs in a thin line along the west bank of the Rhône River. St Joseph reds are 100% Syrah.

Gaillard’s St. Joseph is dark ruby, garnet in color. Bursting with cherry liqueur on on the nose with some leather and meat — as well as a touch of violet and basil(?). Dark cherry, cranberry, cassis and pomegranate on the palate with a bit of toast. Medium bodied, but without a notch left in the belt. Lots of pure, juicy fruit — structured and defined with excellent length. I hope to be able to add a few bottles of Pierre’s wine to my collection with each and every vintage for the rest of my years, his wines are treasures. Recommended.

Related post:
Pierre Gaillard Condrieu 2006
Pierre Gaillard Le Secret Ivre 2007
Pierre Gaillard Côtes du Rhône Les Gendrines 2006

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Jean-Paul Daumen took over from his father in 1990. Since that time it is said that the rise in quality from the domaine has been extraordinary. Today, it is considered to be one of the best in the appellation. He has abandoned the use of fertilizer and chemicals and started to introduce biodynamic principles. Robert Parker says that since 1998, Daumen has been one of the greatest success stories of of Châteauneuf du Pape.

Situated in the northern sector of the appellation, in the area known as Cabrieres, Jean-Paul owns and runs 32 hectares of vines of which eleven are in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Production here is small with 4,500 cases annually of which over two-thirds are Cotes du Rhone and vin de pays.

His Côtes du Rhône is often overshadowed by his other offerings, but are generally very good to excellent and the 2004 is no exception. Nice red fruit with some twizzler, spice and leather on the nose.  Silky, soft and lush with black cherry, strawberry (a nice juicy Grenache component) and plum. This has softened in the last couple of years and is now showing extremely well. A great value at $14 a bottle when I bought it…..recommended.

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I bought this for wine for $17.99 a bottle from Wine Library. It was recommended with a score of 93 points and the following notes by Gary Vaynerchuk:

“The Montfaucon Viognier is THE example of what can be done under $20, still showing everything you would look for in a $75 wine! The quality of this Viognier is almost stunning, the oily ripe and flavorful wine is almost shocking when it 1st hits your palate. After the “holy crap” moment all I could think about was pairing this wine with Lobster and thinking about how many of you would love me for a very long time after you bought and tried this $20 wine. I then went on to beat up the salesperson and get a better price :). I highly recommend this wine and hope you enjoy it over the next 4 – 10 years!”

While I appreciate Gary’s enthusiasm, in my experience the wine didn’t live up to the hype and it certainly didn’t show everything I would look for in a $75 wine. I think there are better expressions of Viognier in this price range. I would certainly opt for the Melville Estate Verna’s Viognier 2007 or the McPrice Myers Larner’s Vineyard Viognier 2006.  The 2006 Gaillard Les Gendrines is more expensive, but is well worth the price. All of those wines are richer with more vibrant Viognier characteristics (stone fruits, honeysuckle, orange blossom, etc) with better minerality, acidity and viscosity. The Montfaucon was very good, but lacked some depth, richness and acidity.

Recommended Viogniers:
Melville Estate Verna’s Viognier 2007
McPrice Myers Viognier Larner Vineyard 2006
Gaillard Côtes du Rhône Les Gendrines 2006

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Pierre Gaillard worked at Guigal before going out on his own. He released two wines his first vintage: one Syrah from St.-Joseph and one Viognier. His epic 1999 Côte-Rôtie wines drew international acclaim for their power, aromatics and length. Today, Gaillard is considered by many to be one of the most capable craftsmen in the Northern Rhône and is also considered a master of Syrah, Viognier and Roussanne.

This is Gaillard’s “baby Condrieu,” a single-vineyard bottling of 100% Viognier from a plot that sits just outside both St.-Joseph and Condrieu. Gaillard singled out this vineyard for its eastern exposition, as its wind-facing slopes are kept clean and cool by the region’s dry winds.

Light golden straw in color. Slighty subdued nose, with soft notes of honeydew, orange blossom, honeysuckle, cut grass and lemon butter. On the palate, peach and nectarine with hints of guava, pineapple and apple butter. Loaded with minerality, great complexity and depth, nicely concentrated but elegant and supple with excellent balance. I have been drinking a lot of Viogniers recently and this would be on my list of favorites. Not as rich or creamy as the Melville or the McPrice Myers, but more complex, seductive and with a bit of mystique. Though not as good as the Pierre Gaillard Condrieu 2006, it is still a very good bottle of wine.

Other recommended Viogniers:
Pierre Gaillard Condrieu 2006
Melville Estate Verna’s Viognier 2007
McPrice Myers Viognier Larner Vineyard 2006

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As I wrote in a recent post, I was a big fan of Seghesio Zins in the late 80s and early 90s — but then they fell off my radar for a while. I recently had a bottle of the Seghesio Omaggio 2004 that I really enjoyed — and said it was probably time to have one of their Zinfandels in the near future. I read that Seghesio thought the 07 was the best Sonoma Zinfandel to date and The Wine Spectator scored it 93 points, so I decided now was the time.

Raspberry, smokey dark fruits and violets with twizzler and spiced, dark fruit compote on the nose. On the palate, black cherry and raspberry with toasted oak, licorice and black pepper. Well balanced with ample, but soft tannins.  I would put this down for 2-3 years, but expect this to be a great expression of California Zinfandel and an excellent value at $17 a bottle. 15.5% alcohol — yet well integrated, lots of nice fruit. Actually, it is more elegant than fruit forward, though a bit too much oak, but assume it will soften with some time.

I purchased this at wine.com — and while I do not frequent their site, it is interesting to note that they are doing some interesting things in terms of pricing. I think the Seghesio lists for about $23+ on wine.com, but search for it on wine-searcher.com and click on wine.com and the price is reduced to about $17. They also are offering shipping for a penny on orders over $95. Both are considered coupons when checking out and you can only use one coupon per purchase, but still makes for a very good deal.

This is a lot of wine for $17 a bottle. Recommended for anyone that loves a great value and Zinfandel.

Update November 11, 2008
The 2007 Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel was just awarded the number 10 spot on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2008.

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I’ve been busy moving, well unpacking would be more accurate. I haven’t posted in a while as a result and hopefully will be able to catch up as I have had the good fortune of opening some very enjoyable bottles of white wine. One of the best whites from the last week was the Tablas Creek Vineyard Côtes de Tablas Blanc. It is a blend of four estate-grown white Rhône varietals: 59% Viognier, 32% Marsanne, 6% Grenache Blanc and 3% Roussanne.

The Viognier lends itself to the aromatics of stone and tropical fruits with citrus, wet stone and white flowers. On the palate, the Marsanne and Roussanne components compliment the Viognier with peach, apricot, grapefruit, green apple, poached pear and mineral notes. Medium body with a rich, lush mouthfeel — with some spice and good acidity from the Grenache Blanc. 13.5% alcohol. 2600 cases produced.

I bought this wine at MacArthur Beverages for about $17 a bottle. A decent value and a very good bottle of wine which I would certainly purchase again given the opportunity.

MacArthur is much closer to my new address which I appreciate given that they probably have the best selection of French wines in Washington, DC. That being said, I always leave with a bad feeling as if they believe they are doing me a favor by selling me wine. It would really be a hell of a store if the service matched the selection.

I also recently had their 2004 Roussanne, which I also really enjoyed. Medium to full body, very rich and viscous, pronounced minerality with notes of peach, appricot, pear, honeysuckle and tangerine.

Other wines from Tablas Creek:
Tablas Creek Grenache Blanc 2006
Côtes de Tablas Creek Vermentino 2008
Tablas Creek Côtes de Tablas Rouge 2006

Other recommended California Rhône whites:
Melville Estate Verna’s Viognier 2007
McPrice Myers Viognier Larner Vineyard 2006
Pax Marsanne/Roussanne/Viognier, Nepenthe, Alder Springs Vineyard, Mendocino County, 2006
L’Aventure Roussanne 2006

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Les Terrasses is a blend of 60% Carignan, 30% Grenache and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon from Priorat. The wine is aged for 12 months in mostly French oak. Dark violet in color. Blackberry, blueberry, kirsch and crushed granite on the nose. Silky with deep, ripe dark cherry and dark fruit on the palate with some herbaceous, leather, dark chocolate, espresso and tobacco notes. Very lush and seductive. Soft tannins and a polished finish.  15,000 cases produced. 14% alcohol.

The wine is made by Alvaro Palacios, who has worked in Rioja and Napa, as well as apprenticing at Petrus. This might be the entry level wine in his portfolio at $30 a bottle. Certainly not a great value, but I was quite impressed with the wine. I have 2 more bottles packed away for a special occasion in the next couple of years and would certainly buy the wine again given the opportunity. Recommended.

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