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MWG November 9th tasting: report (5/5)

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Vacqueyras 2009, Cuvée Azalaïs, Domaine Le Sang des Cailloux ($28.25, 11796420)
70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre and Cinsault from 35- to 40-year-old vines, organically farmed but not yet certified as such (the 2010 vintage reportedly will be). Manually harvested. Destemmed. Fermented in concrete vats with native yeasts and daily pumping over. Matured a minimum of six months in large barrels. Bottled unfiltered and unfined. 14% ABV.
Plum, garrigue, spice. Fluid and nicely structured, with welcome acidity and fine tannins that linger through the finish. Initial salty plum and fig sweetened and deepened, with leather, minerals and licorice adding savour. Long. An excellent, terroir-driven Vacqueyras, about the best pairing imaginable for a garlic- and herb-scented leg of lamb. (Buy again? Yes.)

Naoussa 2009, Terre et Ciel, Domaine Thymiopoulos ($28.40, 11814368)
This 100% Xinomavro is a blend of organically farmed grapes from three parcels and 40- to 70-year-old vines. Fermented in stainless steel vats with native yeasts. Matured in a mix of Burgundy barrels, 20% new. Bottled unfiltered, unfined and with a small squirt of sulphur dioxide. The estate, which has been in the Thymiopoulos family for generations, used to sell its grapes to Boutari. Now-30-something Apostolo had other ideas: he attended wine school, stopped selling grapes, started making wines under his own name and began converting to biodynamic farming. 14.5% ABV.
We’re not in the Rhône Valley anymore, Toto: marked aromas of V8 juice, black raspberry jam, kirsch and menthol. Rich but not heavy fruit and a velvety mouth-feel. Dry. The initially raspy tannins soften as the wine breathes. Long, black cherry and earthy/slatey finish with spice notes. Not exactly my style but, along with its younger sibling, easily the best Xinomavro I’ve tasted. Will be interesting to see what some bottle age brings. (Buy again? If in the market for an exotically flavoured, fruit-forward but savoury and balanced wine, yes.)

Lirac 2010, La Dame Rousse, Domaine de la Mordorée ($22.00, 11690836)
A 50-50 blend of Grenache and Syrah from 40-year-old vines. Manually harvested. Destemmed and given a long maceration. Fermented for 30 days at 34ºC (93ºF). 14.5% ABV.
Leather, spice, plum and eventually kirsch. Started off well – dry, tannic, structured, ripe – but seemed to take on weight and flatten as it breathed. That heaviness and two-dimensionality together with the alcoholic heat made for a distinctly unrefreshing mouthful. Many people love Mordorée but I’m about ready to give up on it. (Buy again? No.)

Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2009, Cuvée Réservée, Domaine du Pégau ($75.00, 11521354)
80% Grenache, 6% Syrah, 4% Mourvèdre and 10% other varieties permitted in the appellation. Manually harvested. Fermented with the stems for ten to 14 days with native yeasts and twice daily pumping over. Slowly pressed. Allowed to settle over the winter, then racked into old oak barrels. Blended just before bottling. Bottled unfiltered and unfined. 14% ABV.
Horsehair, garrigue, turned earth, hint of tar, savoury meat, black fruit. Rich, dense and very ripe yet quite acidic. Structured though the tannins are fine. Long with a little kirschy heat flaring on the finish. At this point early in its life, lacking cohesion and devoid of charm. Unlike the 1995, which was as approachable and seductive in its youth as it was a year ago, this bordered on galumphing. Obviously a thoroughbred and likely to evolve into something impressive. But Pégau used to be thought of as one of the more “feminine” Châteauneufs, and I have a hard time imagining anyone ever using that descriptor for this wine, even 15 or 20 years down the road. (Buy again? Probably not.)

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Written by carswell

November 24, 2012 at 13:51

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