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Archive for June, 2010

More than 10 years ago, Philippe Bravay took over the family domaine and dedicated himself to preserving the unique traditions and special characteristics that Chateauneuf brings to the world. The domaine is quite small, only 5 ½ hectares of which over half is on vines approaching 100 years old, all situated in the lieu-dit Ferrand. He uses organic growing techniques, limits yields strictly (his Côtes du Rhône yields less than 2 1/2 tons to the acre, and the Chateauneuf du Pape even less) and vinifies traditionally.

The Chateauneuf du Pape is 90% Grenache, the vines ranging in age from 60 to 100 years of age, and the balance the other twelve Chateauneuf varietals. From these he obtains superb natural ripeness, usually in excess of 14%. The vinification is traditional and the aging is for the most part in large oak foudre, but also a portion in barrique, but no new oak.

He produces a couple of Côtes du Rhônes as well. The 2007 Côtes du Rhône Cuvee Antique Vieilles Vignes was good, but wasn’t one of my favorites from the ’07 vintage. But I was really impressed with the 2006 La Ferrande. It is made from 100 percent Syrah. Nose of dark fruit with pepper, olive and earth. On the palate, more dark fruit with some bright notes of red fruit with tar and earthy notes. Dense and complex with impressive length on the finish. A very good bottle of wine at under $20 a bottle. 14% alcohol. Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. Recommended.

The Weygandt portfolio is impressive in terms of quality and diversity, and I am especially fond of the Côtes du Rhônes in his value — the quality is outstanding and the wines also offer a great value as well. They just announced an offer on their site for a 25% off a purchase when you sign up for the email list — they usually just send a weekly email detailing the Saturday tasting line up and any other special events or sales….to sign up go to http://www.weygandtwines.com/ and click “Join our email list” and you’ll receive the coupon in the confirmation email.

In my opinion, the following are a few of Weygants best Côtes du Rhônes from their portfolio:
Les Aphillanthes
Domaine Alary
Domaine Grand Nicolet
Domaine Charvin
Domaine Les Grands Bois
Domaine Beau Mistral

Other Favorites from the 07 Côtes du Rhône Vintage
Domaine Gramenon Sierra du Sud
Domaine Gramenon La Sagesse Côtes du Rhône
Domaine Gramenon Les Laurentides Côtes du Rhône
Domaine Richaud Côtes du Rhône-Villages-Cairanne
Domaine Richaud Côtes du Rhône Terres de Galets
Escaravailles Côtes du Rhône

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Dominio do Bibei is located in the Quiroga-Bibei sub zone of the Ribeira Sacra D.O. Like all Ribeira Sacra sub zones, this area is one of spectacular mountain ranges and flowing rivers, but it is drier and harsher than the others. The Quiroga-Bibei sub-zone is dryer and warmer than the other sub-zones in Ribeira Sacra with a slightly larger clay content to the predominately slate soils.

Bibei is a 125 hectare estate with approximately 45 hectares planted today (old terraces are being restructured and new plantings are in progress). Javier Dominguez is leading the effort to recapture a once great vineyard. The idea is to return to the past to rediscover what was once here. His respect for the history of the land is reflected in the winery and its simple design. There are no stainless steel tanks, only wood or cement and they come in all the different sizes.

The vineyards are still tremendously steep and tremendously difficult to navigate. Planted on these terraces are old vines of Mencía, Garnacha, Brancellao and Mouraton. New plots are being planted using cuttings from these old vines to maintain diversity in the vineyard. In addition to the red varietals, there are plantings of white grape varieties such as Doña Blanca, Godello and Albariño (the cuttings of this last grape being from Do Ferreiro).

Lalama is a combination of parcels and is comprised of 85% Mencia with 7% Garnacha, 6% Brancellao (aka Albarello that grows in Galicia and Portugal) and 2% Mouraton (too obscure to even make the Oxford Companion to Wine). Vine age is a range of 15 to 100 years old. Harvest was done by hand and the grapes were harvested separately by variety.

Dark ruby in color. Aromatics of cherry with strawberry-rhubarb with a hint of cedar box and licorice. On the palate, black cherry, plum and raspberry, with dried flowers with some pencil shavings, earth and vegetal notes. Plush and smooth, medium-bodied but packed with pure fruit. 12.5% alcohol. Imported by De Maison Selections. This was a great pairing with grilled leg of lamb, and I poured it along with an ’07 Breton Nuits d’Ivresse.  I love Catherine & Pierre Breton’s wines, but I thought the Lalama was the winner of the evening. Recommended.

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