March Wine Focus - Farther on up the Rhone!

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March Wine Focus - Farther on up the Rhone!

Postby David M. Bueker » Fri Feb 25, 2011 11:47 pm

...A little Clapton reference for you all.

Folks,

Southern France has been a big hit, and the Rhone has been mentioned as a potential topic many times in recent months, so Robin & I decided to capitalize on the momentum & just move a little bit up the road to the Rhone for March.

I hope out new members/guests/winemaker friends/wine writer friends will stick around for another month, as it should be just as much fun. Winter is not yet over, so there's still plenty of time for hearty meals and hearty wines.

More to come soon.

See you here on March 1st!
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Re: March Wine Focus - Farther on up the Rhone!

Postby Tim York » Sat Feb 26, 2011 4:45 am

No problem in finding Rhône here and many in my cellar :D .
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Re: March Wine Focus - Farther on up the Rhone!

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Sat Feb 26, 2011 12:47 pm

Tim York wrote:No problem in finding Rhône here and many in my cellar :D .


Likewise Tim! In-house PO will be pleased there will not be more additional spending this upcoming month. Well, errrrr, there is the Mullineux purchase coming up as wines are in Calgary.
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Re: March Wine Focus - Farther on up the Rhone!

Postby Steve Edmunds » Sat Feb 26, 2011 6:06 pm

If you go far enough up the Rhone, you get to Beaujolais!
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Re: March Wine Focus - Farther on up the Rhone!

Postby David M. Bueker » Sat Feb 26, 2011 6:44 pm

Steve Edmunds wrote:If you go far enough up the Rhone, you get to Beaujolais!


And that's a jolly turn.
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Re: March Wine Focus - Farther on up the Rhone!

Postby Carl Eppig » Sat Feb 26, 2011 7:07 pm

And what would be the southern reach?
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Re: March Wine Focus - Farther on up the Rhone!

Postby Robin Garr » Sun Feb 27, 2011 12:06 am

Carl Eppig wrote:And what would be the southern reach?

South of Montélimar. The climate, soil and topography change abruptly at that point. Chateauneuf-du-Pape and *most* of the Cotes-du-Rhone and its villages are south. Hermitage, Cote-Rotie, Cornas, Saint-Joseph, Condrieu and scattered Cotes villages are north.
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Re: March Wine Focus - Farther on up the Rhone!

Postby Brian K Miller » Mon Feb 28, 2011 6:24 pm

Cool! I can open my second bottle of 1998 Cousedon Saint Joseph. Awesome wine!
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Re: March Wine Focus - Farther on up the Rhone!

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:38 pm

Getting an early start, tonight I grilled a steak and opened a bottle of:

1998 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Crozes-Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert
Bright, deep red color, vibrant aromatics that tell of a rather high level of acidity (though I like it) and meaty/iron flavors mark this as a Rhone Syrah. There's not a lot of complexity here, but it maintains freshness throughout and compliments the steak quite well. Good plus, no more, but an enjoyable dinner companion (along with the cats who wanted my steak).
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Re: March Wine Focus - Farther on up the Rhone!

Postby ChaimShraga » Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:05 am

AN early start for me as well.

Alain Graillot, St. Joseph, 2007

Once again, I return to this wine a few months earlier than I had planned. My excuse this time was a slab of roast beef that begged for black-pepper infused Syrah. As always, there is something languid and sensual about the fruit, which is ripe to the point where it presents yellow - almost tropical - fruit characteristics. But the ripeness is never over-done and never feels over-extracted, while the fruit is well complemented by saline, iron notes; crunchy, supple tannins; and refreshing acidity. I've never quite known how to keep my hands off this, but I've recently Googled upon a statement by the winery that it's best enjoyed in its fruity stage, so that's the end of my dilemma. Well done.
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Re: March Wine Focus - Farther on up the Rhone!

Postby Tim York » Fri Mar 04, 2011 5:20 am

The Rhône valley is really two quite distinct wine regions. The North, which runs along the river valley from Lyon to about Valence, enjoys a quite cool climate, is at its best situated on steep terraces overlooking the river and is planted almost exclusively in Syrah for reds and Roussanne and Marsanne or Viognier for whites. The South is spreads out much further on both sides of the river from Montélimar to Avignon, enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate, is planted on plains and gentle hills and uses a wide variety of grapes of which Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Cinsault are most important for reds and the same varieties as in the North plus several others for whites. (Convention also considers wines from Tricastin, Ventoux, Luberon and Costières de Nîmes as southern Rhône wines.)

Here is a link to a map http://www.philippedupond.com/cartea.html .

One thing that both North and South have in common is that, unlike in Languedoc-Roussillon, there are generally acknowledged "great" wines in both, so for my first contribution this month I got out a Châteauneuf du Pape, the South's "great" wine. Let me say that I have never been totally convinced by the "greatness" of CndP and am still awaiting a bottle which will stand of my personal Mount Olympus; there is no similar problem for me in the North with several from Côte Rôtie, Hermitage and Condrieu already at the summit.

Châteauneuf du Pape 1998 – Clos des Papes, Paul-Vincent Avril - Alc.14% showed a slight whiff of barnyard on opening but after decanting this integrated as a leathery tang in into rich tangy fruit with touches of tar and spice. It was not quite so full bodied and robust as a darkly brooding Beaucastel 98 opened recently, but it was singing and far more harmonious and enjoyable; 17/20+ with more potential.

(NB: a lot of CndP connoisseurs consider that Clos des Papes 98 does not punch up to the weight of the vintage but I like it like this.)
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Re: March Wine Focus - Farther on up the Rhone!

Postby David M. Bueker » Fri Mar 04, 2011 3:11 pm

Tim,

Thanks for the note. I opened a '98 Clos des Papes the other night and found it nice but still lacking in complexity. I am going to let my last bottle sit for a good while longer.
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Re: March Wine Focus - Farther on up the Rhone!

Postby Mark Lipton » Fri Mar 04, 2011 11:47 pm

2001 Domaine Font de Michelle Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Tonight our son selected lamb loin chops for dinner, so Jean settled on a bottle of this wine to accompany it.

nose: classic CNdP nose of kirschwasser cherry with an overlay of something meaty
palate: fully resolved tannins, medium body, silky smooth, no heat from the 14% ABV

This is the first of the 2001s we've dipped into but this producer typically makes a more forward wine than many of the traditionalists that I favor. Made by the delightful and friendly Gonnet brothers, this is their cuvée normale and doesn't see much new oak AFAIK. Totally typique in character, it was really a pointe and unlikely to get much better IMO. Great match for the lamb, too (but then again, what red wine doesn't pair well with lamb?)

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[WTN] Guintrandy 2008 "Saint-Léger" VdP du Comté de Grignan

Postby Robin Garr » Fri Mar 04, 2011 11:55 pm

In the Rhône, it's the Vin de Pays du Comté de Grignan that serves the Zen-like status of filling in the spaces between things. Both above and below Montélimar, dividing line that separates the Mediterranean climate of the Southern Rhône from the cooler Continental climate and soil of the North, Vin de Pays du Comté de Grignan stretches 50 miles along the valley, filling in all the spaces not otherwise covered by controlled appellations.

Domaine la Guintrandy 2008 "Saint-Léger" Vin du Pays du Comté de Grignan ($10.99)

Dark ruby with a clear reddish-orange edge. Attractive and correct varietal aromas, Syrah black pepper and Grenache raspberry, reflect its 50-50 blend. Good raspberry fruit on the palate, fresh and juicy, held in restraint by snappy acidity, with fragrant black pepper and soft tannins becoming more evident in the long, clean red-berry finish. Good fruit and acid balance and rational 13% alcohol make it a fine food wine, and a benchmark example of a simple, well-made Rhóne red. U.S. importer: Vanguard Wines LLC, Columbus. (March 3, 2011)

FOOD MATCH: Grilled red meat and Rhône reds make natural partners, and some leftover grilled lamb kebabs from a local Jordanian eatery that we had on hand made a splendid match, enhanced by aromatic leftover rice from the same source.

VALUE: A quality-price-ratio winner for just over $10.

WHEN TO DRINK: It won't fade over the next year or so, but modest red Rhônes aren't really agers, and the slick-sleeved foam synthetic stopper isn't meant for the cellar.

WEB LINKS: Theproducer's Website is available in French and English. Here's an English-language page about the property's long history.
http://www.vins-cuilleras.com/wine-domaine.htm

For brief tasting and tech notes on the Saint-Léger, click this link.
http://www.vins-cuilleras.com/wine-grignan.htm

Wine-Searcher.com has an interesting summary of information about the Vin de Pays du Comte de Grignan, along with links to representative wines.
http://www.wine-searcher.com/regions-vi ... g_site=WLP

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Find limited vendors for Domaine la Guintrandy "Saint-Leger" on Wine-Searcher.com.
http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/Guint ... g_site=WLP
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Re: March Wine Focus - Farther on up the Rhone!

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:54 am

Great to see all the notes so far! This area can also produce some terrific whites but I have to admit I find it hard to fully enjoy white CdP!! Right now I am savouring a `07 Chateau de Montfaucon CdR Blanc which has terrific flint and honeysuckle overtones.
Should be a great month here. Anyone care to list recent vinatage thoughts? I really miss the Wine Report that used to have up-to-date info.
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Re: March Wine Focus - Farther on up the Rhone!

Postby Tim York » Sat Mar 05, 2011 4:49 am

Bob, all vintage talk is generalisation but in the Rhône it is easier lately than with most other regions because there have been so few duds. In the North all the vintages since 1995 have produced mainly very good wines except 2002 (rain but some stylish but lightish wines), 2003 (too hot but some real but atypical successes) and 2008 (similar to but probably better than 2002).

In the South since 1995 broadly similar; 1996 and 1997 aren't too well regarded but I have enjoyed many of them in a lighter and more acidic (96) vein than usual. 2002 was worse than in the North (RMP reputedly nearly got drowned by deluges), 2007 is considered particularly great (but I find some over-ripe), 2008 was a wet vintage (lighter and more acidic than usual but if chosen well can give a lot of pleasure for aromatic purity and elegance).

That is for reds.

I agree that white CndP is a tantalising wine. Bottles often seem closed and even oxidised. I remember a celestial bottle of Beaucastel VV 97 when quite young and another delicious Clos des Papes 01 at a tasting but subsequent bottles have been dull. The connoisseurs claim that Beaucastel and Rayas whites can age beautifully but I can't confirm that. I have somewhere a TN on a vertical of Beaucastel blanc and I'll see if I can dig it out.
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Re: March Wine Focus - Farther on up the Rhone!

Postby Tim York » Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:23 am

Re white Châteauneuf du Pape, I have found my notes from May 2009 on a comparison of two Beaucastel cuvées in four vintages. I seem to have enjoyed the wines better than I remembered when writing my previous message.

Château de Beaucastel – Châteauneuf du Pape blanc (“classic”) and Châteauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes blanc (“VV”)

The TGVins Club looked at several vintages of white Beaucastel last night, comparing the classic cuvée and the Vieilles Vignes. As usual Pierre Ghysens was our guide.

White Beaucastel, like a lot white CdP, is prone to go into a prolonged closed period after a delicious 12 months following bottling. Most of these, though not old vintages, should have re-opened. However another characteristic of Beaucastel blanc is to continue evolving in a saw-edge fashion with continuous ups and downs, which can make it an unreliable pick for a great occasion of the sort for which such a wine is designed.

These wine are dense, rich and alcoholic (>13.5%) with complex Mediterranean aromatics and flavours managing to combine darkly burnished notes with freshness and I noticed that without food, like powerful red wines, they tended to induce palate fatigue. They would be wonderful pairing for rich fish and white meat dishes, e.g. the poulet Vallée d’Auge, which I wrote about a few days ago with Vouvray. In most cases the classic cuvée was drinking more expressively right now but the VV mostly showed greater density, freshness, elegance and length, which led us to think that it had potential in reserve which would reverse the preferences in a few years time.

The prices for 2007 vintage are €59,50 for Classic and €96 for VV; one may ask whether VV's extra quality justifies this big difference.

According to Parker’s 1998 (French) edition on Rhône wines, Classic is made from 80% Roussanne, 15% Grenache and 5% others (Clairette, Bourboulenc, Picpoul, Picardan) and 80% is matured in stainless steel tanks and the rest in new and used barrels. VV is 100% Roussanne and is fermented and matured 50/50 in stainless steel tanks and in once used barrels.

1998
Classic showed an open and expressive nose and an ample, deep, rich and complex palate with tropical fruit, some nuts and good mouth-fill; 17/20+.
VV showed slightly lighter colour than Classic and was initially more closed but with swirl and airing fine floral aromas emerged and the palate was more focussed, mineral and linear than Classic with fine length; 17/20++ now; 18/20+ potential.

1999
Classic showed deeper amber than ’98 and a sweetly burnished nose with slight iodine and sherry hints; the palate with its richly burnished character gave the impression of less fullness and intensity than ’98 with a certain soft bitterness around the edges and dryness towards the finish; good drinking, though; 16/20.
VV was similar in colour and its aromas were somewhat less burnished and fresher with more marked iodine notes; the palate was also fresher and more ample than Classic’s though darker than ’98; good length; 16.5/20.
Most of the others preferred Classic.

2000
Classic was better than ’99 with fuller and more complex fruit, pineapple, orange and marmalade, greater freshness and generosity; 17/20+.
VV was broadly similar but more discreet aromatically and with less purity, malt hints and a bitter touch on the after-taste; 15.5/20; was this in a “down” phase or an under-performing bottle?

2001
Both seemed a lot more youthful.
Classic took time to open up and was aromatically simpler than the previous years; there was some fine deep substance seeming quite dark and burnished at first but freshening up; good balance and length; 16/20 now with ++++ potential.
VV was even more restrained aromatically with initially some woody and pasty hints but these dissipated and impressively round, rich matter and fine balance and length were revealed; 16/20 now with +++++ potential.
Pierre thinks that these are potentially the finest of the lot.


I feel some nostalgia when re-reading these notes. The club no longer exists :( . Pierre was forced out of the TGVins business by a ruthless and manipulative partner :( :( and has now joined a smaller business a further 60km down the road without much of the outstanding portfolio of Rhône wines which he had contributed to the TGVins partnership :( :( :( .
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Re: March Wine Focus - Farther on up the Rhone!

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Mar 06, 2011 8:59 pm

White CdP can cause quite a discussion in certain places, errr forums, so here is a note on a CdR Blanc from Chateau de Montfaucon just across the river from "Pape" country!

WTN: `07 Chateau de Montfaucon Cotes du Rhone Blanc Comtesse Madeleine.

Purchased on a whim two years ago, $28 Cdn (ouch). 13% alc, blend of 40% Viognier, 30% Marsanne, 10% Clairette, 10% Bourboulenc, 10% Picpoul. Good natural cork, opened one hour.

Color is medium-deep yellow, no sign of gold. On the nose, we find citrus, floral, oranges, honey and lots of flint. Some apricot on day 2 but really did not hold all that well.
Initial entry thought was obvious viognier here, off-dry, medium-bodied, minerally. Quite delicious and a top notch effort (did my cellaring help?). Plenty of butterscotch here but not overly sweet.
"Honey and apricot" from across the table......" and some flint too".
I would think this would have been of interest when purchased but just goes to show what some cellaring can do.
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Re: March Wine Focus - Farther on up the Rhone!

Postby John Hartnett » Sun Mar 06, 2011 11:33 pm

Texier 2008 Cotes du Rhone Blanc ($14.99) - a nice wine with a minerality that sets it apart from most white Rhones, tropical aromas on day one/muted tropical aromas on day two, medium bodied/better structure on day two, dry finish
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Re: March Wine Focus - Farther on up the Rhone!

Postby Tim York » Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:01 am

Côtes du Rhône La Sagesse 1999 – Domaine Gramenon, Philippe & Michèle Laurent – Alc.14% -(€19 for 2008), made from 60 year old Grenache vines with no use of SO2 in the winemaking process.

I had forgotten about this bottle but found it when searching for a Rhône wine to accompany a pork dish. I feared that it would have dried out but in the event it was still lovely with just a suspicion of fading and loss of liveliness.

This estate is located close to Montélimar at the northerly end the Southern Rhône wine region and produces Grenache of exceptional purity with an almost Burgundian elegance. In the 1998 French edition of Parker’s Rhône guide, it figured as one of his darlings rating 4/5 stars (kudos to him for “discovering” it). I visited it about that time and bought a fair number of bottles which were exuberantly fruity and disappeared quickly – always a good reference. I well remember Philippe Laurent’s malicious humour. Sadly Philippe was killed in a hunting accident in 1999 (I’m not sure whether that occurred before or after this wine would have been made). His widow (now using her maiden name Aubéry) courageously took over the reins and with some help from Thierry Allemand has succeeded in maintaining the estate’s reputation. Here is a link where Jamie Goode provides more information http://www.wineanorak.com/gramenon.htm .

The lovely fruit was still there exuding a lot of sweet cherry with a kirsch like tang without any suspicion of the jamminess to which Grenache based wines are prone. The palate was medium/light in weight with resolved tannins leaving enough support for the finish and smooth acidity giving enough grip for balance. The overall effect was one of gracefully ageing elegance. I think that this wine was probably at its peak at least 5 years ago and has nowhere to go but downhill. It now gives a similar sort of pleasure to an ageing traditional Rioja but without the vanilla touches; 16/20++.
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Re: March Wine Focus - Farther on up the Rhone!

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Mar 07, 2011 9:16 am

Interesting (and tragic) story Tim. I did not realize there was an Allemand connection, even if just a helping hand. The name of Allemand is like catnip to the wine geek community.
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2009 Texier CdR Saint-Julien-en-Saint-Alban

Postby Rahsaan » Mon Mar 07, 2011 9:18 am

I didn't find this as open or expressive as some other folks. It was delicious from the beginning with deep and dark yet floral fruit, but it was so so so primary for many hours. Eventually it started showing more of a tannic structure along with an almost silky definition. Dark roasted fragrant floral flavors, with a firmness and a minerality that remind me of all sorts of other Northern Rhone appellations. An interesting combination and a delicious wine to follow in the future.
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Re: 2009 Texier CdR Saint-Julien-en-Saint-Alban

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:57 am

Rahsaan wrote:I didn't find this as open or expressive as some other folks. It was delicious from the beginning with deep and dark yet floral fruit, but it was so so so primary for many hours. Eventually it started showing more of a tannic structure along with an almost silky definition. Dark roasted fragrant floral flavors, with a firmness and a minerality that remind me of all sorts of other Northern Rhone appellations. An interesting combination and a delicious wine to follow in the future.


Ooh...a mystery wine. :wink:
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Re: March Wine Focus - Farther on up the Rhone!

Postby Salil » Mon Mar 07, 2011 12:01 pm

Where's the mystery?

Rahsaan, I notice CSW just got a few more in of that wine... :)
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