Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for May, 2009

IMG_1257The brothers Frédérick and François Alary are cousins to the legendary winemaker Denis Alary. Together, they represent two of the finest winemaking points of reference in the entire Southern Rhône.They are in fact the 10th generation of winemakers to tend this estate in the Côtes du Rhône over the last 300 years—with a family history that goes all the way back to 1692.

Vineyard work at Domaine de L’Oratoire is organic (and now certified), as well as natural (unfined and unfiltered), although the Alary brothers may prefer the term traditional, since they just continue to plow as their father did and his father before him and so on. They use no pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers. Robert Parker wrote that this domaine “is one of the finest estates in the Côtes du Rhône…and one of [its] most conspicuous overachievers, making wines that are far above their humble appellations…. This is the type of estate that brings smiles to consumers who happen upon their wines. They are reasonably priced and qualitatively equivalent to wines selling at two or three times the price.”

Cairanne is a picturesque hilltop village in the southern Rhône Valley, and is considered at the top of the several villages allowed to use the “Côtes du Rhône Villages” classification. The other top CDR villages include Rasteau and Seguret. Generally speaking, a “Côtes du Rhône Villages”—particularly from these three communes—has more class, complexity, and concentration than a straight Côtes du Rhône appellation and stricter standards prevail in terms of lower yields and alcoholic minimums. The best Cairanne wines (like the ones from Oratoire) can rival nearby Châteauneuf du Papes—at half the price.

Their Cairanne Blance is made from grapes that were harvested by hand, following immediate pressing and fermentation for 6 months in vats.  This special selection of the estate’s oldest, lowest-yielding vines—some 70 years old—from the lieu-dit “Haut Coustias,” the chalkiest, coolest part of the appellation, combines 40% Marsanne, 40% Roussanne, 10% Grenache Blanc and 10% Clairette. Aromatics of pear, quince, stone fruit and white blossom. On the palate, silky and rich with pear and white fruit, candied cirtus, vanilla, roasted almond and thyme. 13.5% alcohol. Recommended.

Read Full Post »

IMG_1255

For a hundred and thirty one years, three generations of the López de Heredia family have devoted themselves to producing unique and exceptional wines. The founder, Don Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta, a knowledgeable and enthusiastic student in the art of wine making. He fell in love with the region and especially the area around Haro, the capital of the Rioja Alta region. There he observed a magical combination of soil and climate that would offer the perfect environment for producing wine. Around 1877, he began the design and construction of the complex that is today known as the López de Heredia, the oldest in Haro and one of the first three bodegas in the Rioja region.

Their rosé is aged in oak and is released only when Maria and the other members of the López de Heredia family feel that it is ready to drink. It is made only in better vintages, and it brings with it the ancient marine mineral bed that is the Tondonia vineyard.

The blend is mostly Grenache (60%), and the balance is Tempranillo (30%) and Viura (10%).

Copper with a tawny orange and pink hue. Intriguing aromatics of orange blossom, honey, dried fruit and a hint of wet cement. On the palate, oxidized with distinct sherry characteristics, orange marmalade, tangerine, apricot, dried flowers and toasted almond. Rich and very complex — pronounced mineral notes, good acidity and a pure, clean finish.

12.5% alcohol. 10,000 bottles produced. This is certainly the most complex rosé I have had and also one of the best. All of their wines are virtually essential in exploring Rioja, Spain and wine.In Europe they say that great stories sell wine (rather than points in the United States). This wine tells a great story — it’s complex, interesting, provocative, shows great depth — and will permeate your thoughts long after the bottle is empty.

Their rosé would be a great complement to Middle Eastern, Indian, Thai or any Mediterranean fare. Strongly recommended.

More rosé wines:
Mas des Bressades Rosé
Chateau D’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé
Prieto Picudo Preto Rosado 2008

Also from Lopez de Heredia:
Lopez de Heredia “Viña Gravonia” Crianza Blanco Rioja 1999

Read Full Post »

IMG_1235Gregory Perez began his winemaking career at the venerable Cos d’Estournel. With his foundation of great training in Bordeaux, Gregory has brought the to the areas of Tierra de Castilla and Bierzo. The Preto is his new project in Tierra de Castilla, just east of the Bierzo area.

Gregory features the regional specialty grape variety, Prieto Picudo. Prieto Picudo is responsible for lots of rosé wines in its native Castilla y León.

I think this might be the darkest rosé I have had — dense and bright ruby red in color. Cherry, lychee and some jolly rancher on the nose. Fresh, bright fruit of  watermelon, pear, cherry, raspberry with some rhubarb and herbs. Medium weight and dense, nice acidity — good purity and precision with some substance on the finish.

Though I still prefer the Mas des Bressades Rosé, Lopez de Heredia Rioja Tondonia Rosé 1998 and the Chateau D’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé — this is delicious and a great choice for BBQ or burgers.

Read Full Post »

IMG_1242I was very excited to see this wine on the shelf and I showed great restraint by only taking a single bottle home with me. The restraint was short lived as this was opened within 24 hours of being brought into its new home. Perhaps not quite as good as the Le Petit Chambord 2006. If memory serves me (and please understand that is a big if), the 2006 had more zing and fruit….but we are talking pretty subtle nuances and the 2007 is a really lovely bottle of wine. Great aromatics, very good acidity with pronounced citrus and mineral components. A great food wine — and especially well paired with seafood given the citrus and acidity — and  a good value at $15-$17 a bottle.

This wine is made by Francois Cazin. It is from the appellation of Cheverny, one of the most recent new appellations in the Loire Valley (1991). By legislation, a Cheverny wine has to be a blend of varietals, and François Cazin’s white is 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Chardonnay.

Another gem in the tried and true portfolio of Louis/Dressner. Recommended — and buy more than just one bottle.

Read Full Post »

IMG_1232Another wine from René Rostaing, one of the great names of Côte Rôtie. He started out in 1971, with a little more than an acre of vineyards, split between the Côte Blonde and La Landonne. Since that time his holdings have expanded considerably and today his estate stands at over 20 acres of Côte Rôtie.

Rostaing leans to the modernist camp of Côte Rôtie producers; however, he goes easy on new oak, using a maximum of 15% in the maturation process. All of his wines are bottled unfiltered.

Recently, René and his wife purchased a modest estate, Domaine Puech Chaud, in the Côteaux du Languedoc. Located in a relatively cool micro-climate, the zone’s limestone gravel seemed perfect for the Rostaings’ love of Syrah.

I believe this is 80 percent Syrah with equal parts Mourvedre and Grenache. Dark ruby in color. Aromatics of cherry and earth with some wet pavement, cut hay and meatiness. On the palate, sour cherry, plum, leather and some earthiness and minerality. I would classify this as very good and even better at under $20. Not sure I would be as pleased had I paid above $20. 14% alcohol. 1,000 cases produced.

Not the easiest bottle to find. I got this from Primo Vino and it is currenty on sale at $18 a bottle. Wine Exchange has the 2005 at $27 a bottle. Chez Panisse has the 2006 on its wine list at $48 a bottle. I would recommend this at under $20 a bottle — but I was more impressed with the 2005 Puech Chaud Blanc.

Read Full Post »

IMG_1223René Rostaing is one of the great names of Côte Rôtie. He started out in 1971, with a little more than an acre of vineyards, split between the Côte Blonde and La Landonne. Since that time his holdings have expanded considerably and today his estate stands at over 20 acres of Côte Rôtie, including some highly valued plots, featuring in several cases some ancient vines.

He has the reputation as being one of the finest winemakers in the northern Rhone, crafting some of the finest Côte Rôties and Condrieus on the market today. From several parcels of old vines that immediately adjoin Côte-Rôtie and Condrieu, Rostaing produces a gorgeous non-appellation white and red called Les Lezardes. In Condrieu, he holds a tiny parcel in Côte Bonnette that yields some of the region’s most refined Viognier. Most of his Côte-Rôtie parcels are blended to produce the Cuvée Classique and there are his two prized Côte-Rôtie special cuvées, La Landonne and Côte Blonde.

Rostaing is in the modernist camp of Côte Rôtie producers; however, he goes easy on new oak and uses a maximum of 15% in the maturation process. All the wines are bottled unfiltered.

Recently, René and his wife purchased a modest estate, Domaine Puech Chaud, in the Côteaux du Languedoc. Located in a relatively cool micro-climate, the zone’s limestone gravel seemed perfect for the Rostaings’ love of Syrah. Bolstered with small amounts of Mourvèdre, Grenache, Grenache Blanc, and Vermentino.

The Puech Chaud Blanc is made from 50% Grenache Blanc, 35% Vermentino (also known as Rolle) and 15% Viognier. Raised entirely in stainless steel (like his acclaimed Condrieu), it offers stone fruit, melon, white flowers and citrus. Full bodied, concentrated and rich, with stone fruit, pear, some spice, saline and bay leaf. Nice minerality and acidity with some zing and a focused finish. 500 cases produced. 13% alcohol.

I got this on sale at Primo Vino on sale for $16.00 a bottle. It might only be May, but I’ll put this on my top ten whites for under $20 for 2009. Recommended.

Related post:
René Rostaing Vassal de Puech Noble Coteaux du Languedoc 2007

Read Full Post »

img_1217The 2008 vintage of the Tablas Creek Vineyard Vermentino is their seventh bottling of this traditional Mediterranean varietal. Vermentino is a late-ripening white grape originating in or Madeira, or perhaps Portugal. It is now widely planted in Sardinia and the coastal arc running from Tuscany through Liguria and into southern France (where it is known as Rolle). Vermentino produces a wine that is bright, clean, and crisp, with distinctive citrus character, refreshing acidity and surprising richness. Tablas Creek was the first to introduce the grape to California in 1993.

Light golden straw color. Citrus, stone fruit, melon and spice aromatics. Light to medium body. Crisp and acidic. Refreshing green apple, pear with lime, citrus and mineral notes. The weight, citrus and acidity makes this a great pair for seafood and Mediterranean fare — or a great apéritif. 13% alcohol.

Recommended. Another example why Tablas Creek is one of my favorite producers in California. Others include:
Tablas Creek Grenache Blanc 2006
Tablas Creek Vineyard Côtes de Tablas Blanc 2006
Tablas Creek Côtes de Tablas Rouge 2006

Of their whites, I think I may have liked their Grenache Blanc the best, but this was probably the most versatile and would give it a nod over the Côtes de Tablas Blanc.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: