Archive for March, 2009

img_1088 When he was only 25 years old, Charly Thevenet (son of Jean-Paul Thevenet in Morgon), obtained three acres of his own in Regnié. The 2007 bottling is his first limited release. From a 1.5 hectare plot of 70 year-old vines in the process of being converted to Biodynamic agriculture, the wine is made in the Lapierre style, with little or no sulfur dioxide. The vines are an old version of Gamay, not modern clones.

Cherry and violet aromatics. On the palate, tangy and ripe bing cherry with plum, raspberry and wet stone. Medium bodied, with crisp and bright acidity.

150 cases produced. 13% alcohol. Imported by Kermit Lynch. This was good, but not as captivating as the Morgon Cuvée Corcelette Vieille Vigne 2007.

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img_1085The Fontodi estate is located in Panzano, almost at the center of the Chianti Classico region. Like Felsina, which claims an Etruscan origin for its name, Fontodi also has a long history; vines have been cultivated here since the time of the Roman empire, and documents prove there was vinification here as far back as the 16th Century, at a farmhouse then referred to as Case Via. The current owners, the Manetti family, also have many centuries of history in Chianti, although not with viticulture. For three hundred years this family has been renowned for the manufacture of terracotta, and it was not until 1968 that the family decided to move into wine, with the purchase of Fontodi.

Like the 1999 Castello della Paneretta Terrine, this was tucked a way with various bottle of Italian wines downstairs. Like the Terrine, I also expected this to be past its prime and while its better days were behind it, it didn’t disappoint. I poured a glass after decanting it for 30-40 minutes. It was medium ruby in color with just a touch of copper and rust. Aromatics of cherry, some violet, baked rhubard and musty pine. On the palate, sour cherry with currant and strawberry twizzler. A bit shallow on the mid-palate and a little short on the finish — but this was still quite good and paired well with food. 13% alcohol.

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img_1076 Rotllan Torra is a winery based in Torroja del Priorat, Spain. Jordi Rotllan Torra founded the winery with his family in 1984. In 1997, Rotllan Torra exploded on the Spanish wine making scene with Amadis, a wine from hundred-year-old vines, after two top publications in the Spanish wine industry named the 1995 release as one of the top wines of the year.

The winery (see video below) is located in a former monastery of the small village of Torroja del Priorat (2 hours southwest of Barcelona.) This ancient area (some of the vineyards are 100 years old) is comprised of steep hillside vineyards of Grenache, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon at 2000 feet elevation. The soil is composed primarily of slate. The dry, hot climate forces the vine to reach deep for water and helps produce an intensity in the fruit. All harvesting is done by hand due to the steep inclines of the vineyards.

Tirant seems to have overtaken the Amadis as their flagship wine. The fruit comes from low-yielding vines in a unique microclimate near the village of Torroja del Priorat. The 2003 is a blend of 25% Grenache and 25% Carignan (both from 90 year old vines), 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah and 10% Merlot. It was fermented in foudres and then aged in new French oak for 12 months.

Almost black in color with aromatics of cherry, cassis and blackberry with some forest floor, menthol and floral notes. Rich, layered and dense on the palate with plum, blackberry and pomegranate with some vegetable and herbaceousness, slate, tobacco and smoke. Great balance and complexity. Lots of fruit but also a bit austere showing a bit of an edge. Big, but also elegant and soft. This came with all kinds of high praise — and it did not disappoint. I expect this wine will be even more impressive in 3-5 years and I would already say this is one of the top ten wines I have had from Spain. 16,500 bottles produced. 14% alcohol. Recommended.

I think I have one more bottle of the 2003 Tirant (which I think I am going to sit on for another 2-3 years), as well as 2 bottles of the 2004. Not the easiest wine to find, but certainly worth the effort.

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img_10621This wine is a 50-50 blend of Sangiovese and Canaiolo from Castello della Paneretta. Terrine is named after the vineyard where the old Canaiolo vines were grown. I opened a bottle of the ’99 a few years ago, and remember thinking it was on its last breath. I was trying to organize my wines on Friday evening and found another bottle. I assumed this would end up un the sink and opened it without any expectation that I would finish a glass of it.

I opened it and decanted it for about 30 minutes. In the glass, deep purple in color with a dark hue. Cherry, black currant, wet tobacco and forest floor on the nose. Sour, ripe and dusty cherry, dark plum, licorice and raisin on the palate with some earth, mushroom and smoke. Lush and velvety smooth. Very mellow but still with some vibrancy — and to my surprise, it still showed well on the second day.

This really was an enjoyable bottle of wine. Not to mention a great example of wine’s ability to surprise, the uniqueness of each bottle and wine’s constant state of change. 13% alcohol. Imported by North Berkeley Wine Imports.

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img_1050Château Rayas is a one of the great names of the Rhône Valley.  The domain is old school in terms of style and technology — no stainless steel, no temperature controls, no new oak, and no oenologists are to be found in the cellar, which contains a hodgepodge of barrels, demi-muids, and foudres. Today, Emmanuel Reynaud manages three domains, Château Rayas, Château des Tours and Château de Fonsalette.

The Fonsalette Côtes du Rhône is a blend of 50% Grenache, 35% Cinsault, and 15% Syrah. Dark ruby with a tinge of purple hue in color. Cherry and black currant on the nose with some licorice and tobacco. On the palate, cherry, strawberry with grilled herbs and flowers. A bit of earth with crushed rock — strong minerality underpinnings. Very solid and muscular — delineated structure with purity and focus. Silky tannins with quite a lingering finish. Quite a classic bottle of wine and expression of Rhône.

I think this showed better on the second day, and probably would have been better served sitting on this for another 5-7 years. This was an enjoyable and memorable bottle of wine — and the first wine I was able to enjoy on the back porch this year — all made for a very nice evening. 14% alcohol. Imported by Martine’s Wines Inc.

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img_1053More evidence that the Catherine and Pierre know their breton. Catherine & Pierre practice organic viticulture and vinify most of the wines in stainless-steel vats so that the wines can express their terroir and vintage. Their wines are highly regarded in France and are just starting to get more attention in the U.S. — and it is worth seeking out their wines to understand why.

Chinon produces more than 6 million bottles of wine annually. 100 years ago, wine from Chinon was regarded with the same esteem as Margaux. Though Chinon is still popular in France, its charms have been diminished in the United States — and we seem to be fixated on Bordeaux, the Rhone valley and Burgundy.

The 2005 Les Perrières is deep, dark red in color verging on deep purple to black. On the nose, dark fruit with violet, black cherry, black licorice and graphite — as well as a spice and game. Ripe, dark fruit (blackberry, black cherry and some blueberry) on the palate with marked minerality and some toast. Well balanced with impressive purity of fruit. Soft and silky, this is actually a bit lean, though it certainly seems larger than the sum of its parts. Many consider this to be the top cuvée from the Bretons and a great candidate for the cellar, though this is showing extremely well right now. 13 percent alcohol. Imported by Kermit Lynch.

Strongly recommended. I would certainly buy this if you can still find it as it just might be the best red wine I have had from the Loire 2005 vintage.

Other wines from Catherine & Pierre Breton:
Catherine & Pierre Breton Chinon Beaumont 2004
Catherine & Pierre Breton Bourgueil Nuits d’Ivresse, 2004

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