Brett happens

All wine, most of the time

May 19th MWG tasting: report

with 2 comments

Quick notes on 18 (well, 17) of the 22 wines in the first Cellier Summer 2011 release. Most are still available, though the Gros Noré rosé and Venus red are disappearing fast.

FLIGHT 1: THREE CHARDONNAYS

Mâcon-Fuissé 2009, Le Haut de Fuissé, Pierre Vessigaud ($22.35, 11419659)
Organically farmed Chardonnay from a rarely seen appellation. Pleasing if muted nose of lemon and chalk. Round and less than bone dry, the sweetness softening the bright acidity. Plump surface, firm core. Long, minerally finish. Not a show-stopper but quite delicious. Great QPR. (Buy again? Yes.)

Montagny 1er cru 2009, Les Platières, Domaine Feuillat-Juillot ($25, 11416343)
Lemon bright with a fresh herb note. Less rich than the other wines in the flight, not in itself a bad thing. Clean, balanced and long. Enjoyable enough but not really memorable. (Buy again? No, not at that price.)

Chardonnay 2007, Hunting Hill (North Island), Kumeu River Wines ($37.50, 11416159)
Rich but not heavy on the nose and in the mouth. Spice, butter, oats and a hint of butterscotchy oak. Ripe fruit and residual sugar balanced by the wine’s acidity and depth. Lemon and minerals mark the long finish. Good aging potential. New Worldish but not turning its back on Burgundy. (Buy again? If I decide to grill a lobster at some point, sure.)

FLIGHT 2: THREE PURPORTEDLY LOBSTER-FRIENDLY WHITES

Crozes-Hermitage 2009, Les Terres Blanches, Domaine Belle ($26.25, 11400958)
Around two-thirds Marsanne and one-third Roussanne. Subtle but deep nose: yellow fruit and wax with herb and floral notes. Dense yet balanced in the mouth, not lacking freshness. Shows a bit of alcohol on the bitter-tinged finish. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Montlouis-sur-Loire 2007, Les Choisilles, François Chidaine ($30.50, 11153176)
A last-minute replacement for the Cellier bottle of Chidaine’s 2006 Les Tuffeaux left on my kitchen counter. Appealing nose: hints of wax, melon and tropical fruit, especially pineapple. Mouth-coating texture bordering on unctuous, a feeling only augmented by the sec-tendre level of residual sugar. Peach on the mid-palate. Not particularly deep but pleasant. Touch of alcohol on the long finish. (Buy again? Probably not, when Huet’s Vouvrays are available in the same price range.)

Pinot Gris 2008, Marlborough, Seresin Estate ($25.65, 11420078)
Fermented with native yeasts. Somewhat perfumy nose with hints of vanilla and tropical fruit. Rich, off-dry with spicy white fruit flavours. Sits heavily on the palate. Long, hot finish (14.5%). Hefty, simplistic: an oaf of a wine. (Buy again? No.)

FLIGHT 3: FIVE ROSÉS, MOSTLY BUILT AROUND GRENACHE

Garda Classico Chiaretto 2009, RosaMara, Costaripa ($20.35, 11415121)
Groppello, Marzemino, Sangiovese and Barbera. About half is fermented and aged in small barrels, the other half in stainless steel. Lightly fragrant nose: dusty flowers. Dry and soft on the palate, more floral than fruity, with just enough acidity and a lingering bitter (almond?) note. A charmer. (Buy again? Yes.)

Coteaux d’Aix en Provence 2010, Les Béatines, Domaine des Béates ($21, La QV)
Organically farmed Grenache Noir (75%) and Syrah (25%). An appealing mingle of wild strawberries, pink grapefuit, nectarine, sun-baked earth and garrigue. Clean, balanced, minerally and refreshing. Red Delicious note on the finish. The most popular wine of the flight. (Buy again? Yes.)

Coteaux du Languedoc 2010, Mas Jullien ($22.95, 11419595)
Cinsault, Carignan, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre from 20- to 30-year-old vines. Made using the saignée method and natural yeasts. Not allowed to undergo malolactic fermentation. Almost dark enough to be a red. Complex, savoury, fruity (nectarine, strawberry) and spicy. Rich yet fluid thanks to the wine’s acidity, dryness and mineral substrate. Pure fruit on the attack, a hint of caramel and a bit of heat on the earthy finish.  Definitely a food wine. Tail-end was even better the next day. (Buy again? Yes.)

Bandol 2009, Domaine du Gros Noré ($26.85, 11416837)
40% Mourvèdre, 40% Cinsault, 20% Grenache. Perfumy, peppery nose with hints of garrigue, pink grapefruit and rhubarb. On the palate, quite dry and savoury, complex with pale fruit. Impeccable balance. Good length. Will probably be even better in a year. (Buy again? Definitely.)

Côtes de Provence 2009, Whispering Angel, Château d’Esclans ($22.15, 11416984)
Grenache (73%), Rolle (4%), Cinsault (9%), Syrah (8.5%) and Mourvedre (5.5%). The palest rosé I’ve ever seen; if it weren’t for the pink (as opposed to yellow or green) cast, it could pass for a white. Garrigue, grapefruit pith, peach. Delicate, fruity attack fast-fades to a rainwatery finish with a soft but persistent bitter note. (Buy again? Probably not.)

FLIGHT 4: TWO CATALONIAN REDS

Priorat 2006, Embruix, Vall Llach ($33.75, 10508131)
Mostly young-vine Garnacha (34%), Cariñena (22%), Cabernet Sauvignon (21%), Syrah (19%) and Merlot (4%). Layered nose: spice, plum, fresh-turned earth, sawed wood, ink, horsehair. Fruity attack, structured mid-palate, with oak chiming in on the long finish. Vibrant and surprisingly fresh for a 15.5% ABV wine, though as it warmed the alcohol became more apparent. (Buy again? 15.5%?! Probably not.)

Montsant 2008, Dido, Venus la Universal ($23, 11376994)
Mostly Grenache with some Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Ripe fruit, tobacco, leather, roasting coffee and a floral note (peony?). Smooth, rich, structured, complete. Sweet fruit attack, earthy, minerally finish. The 14% ABV is very well hidden. A favourite of nearly everyone around the table. (Buy again? Yes, provided I can lay my hands on some.)

FLIGHT 5: FIVE REDS FROM CASTILLA Y LEÓN

Rioja Reserva 2005, Bodegas LAN ($24.15, 11414145)
Tempranillo (80%), Mazuelo (10%) and Garnacha (10%). Spent around 12 months in American and French oak barrels. Wet clay, plum, slate and a hint of vanilla. Smooth on the palate with soft fruit and a good hit of oak. Structured and balanced enough to age another five years. (Buy again? Probably not, though fans of oaky wines needn’t hesitate.)

Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León 2007, Altos Del Duratón, Bodegas Ribera del Duraton ($18.55, 11387343)
Tempranillo (85%) and Syrah (15%). Spent eight months in French oak barrels. Spice, candied black raspberry, roasted coffee. Not quite a gros rouge qui tâche but getting there. Oak dominates the fruit. Not terrible but in no way memorable. (Buy again? No.)

Ribera del Duero 2006, Robles, Ecologica, Dominio Basconcillos ($22.60, 11413441)
Organically farmed Tinta del País (aka Tempranillo). Spent 12 months in American and French oak barrels. Spicy plum, turned earth, hint of iodine.  Rich and fruity with a mouth-coating texture and oak and alcohol in check. Not much in the way of structure or depth but pleasant enough drinking. (Buy again? Probably not.)

Toro 2006, San Román, Bodegas y Vinedos Maurodos ($48, 11412852)
100% Tinta de Toro (aka Tempranillo). Spends two years in French and American barrels of various ages. Piña colada gives way to soy sauce and choco-cherry. Rich and round. Fruit and oak are deep but, for now, somewhat primary. Velvety tannins and lots of acidity. Long finish. Needs time but should knit together into a classy wine. (Buy again? Could be tempted.)

Bierzo 2007, Losada Vinos de Finca ($23.55, 11377874)
Old-vine Mencía grown on clay (not the appellation’s famous schist). Spent nine months in new French oak. The estate has adopted some organic and biodynamic techniques but hasn’t been certified. Complex and classy, redolent of dark fruit, spice, minerals and oak. Extracted but not to a fault. Light, tight tannins. Roasted and spice (anise?) aromas join the fruit on the long finish. An atypical Bierzo but none the worse for it: surprisingly balanced and vibrant. Many tasters thought this was the $48 San Román and were delighted to find it cost half as much. (Buy again? Yes.)

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Written by carswell

May 21, 2011 at 10:45

2 Responses

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  1. Just a note that I took home the rest of the Toro 2006, San Román, Bodegas y Vinedos Maurodos and finished it off the next day. It stood up very well and I would say much improved from the tasting. More integrated and seemed more balanced with far more depth. Surprisingly lovely.

    Thomas

    May 21, 2011 at 17:54

  2. […] from  Venus la Universal ($24.10, 11376994) seemed less approachable and more serious than the 2008. Sleek, dark, brooding and barely budging in the hour or so it was open, this is a wine that will […]


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