What’s in the glass tonight May 29th – Côtes du Rhône


Leon Perdigal CdR 2016

Off Topic: Léon Perdigal Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2016 – $

Rough and raffish, red fruits, savoury, white pepper tickles the nose.

A simple and enjoyable Rhône rouge. Light red fruits, balanced.

Recommended 86 points.

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RW Worth Cellaring Tasting: Côtes Du Rhône And Related Reds, with Geoff Kelly


CDR worth cellaring 1

Once again, Geoff Kelly hosted another evening at Regional Wines and Spirits looking at a range of affordable Rhône reds. Three years back I had attended a similar event, which hooked me on wines from the Rhône valley, so I was very keen to come and have another review of these wines in Geoff’s erudite company.

His invitation set the scene: “Time to run another ‘Worth Cellaring’ tasting of the warm red grenache-based wines of the Southern Rhone Valley.  At best these can be the most food-friendly and best-value red wines on Earth.  They can have all the soft charm and appeal of pinot noir, yet just be that little bit more substantial.  In general, one has to pay quite a lot to achieve substantial pinot noirs.  This is where the Southern Rhone wines come into their own.

Selection is the key.  Because many of them are matured more in large vats, even concrete, than smaller barrels, we have to be on the lookout for heavy dull wines showing some reduction.  Most winewriters will never tell you about that aspect of wines, hence the appeal of having our own evaluation tasting, to decide for ourselves which are in truth worth buying.

Good Cotes du Rhone will cellar for years, ageing very gracefully.  The layout for the tasting will therefore be:  to taste the Guigal wine first as a yardstick – any wine better than this will be worth buying;  then a 10-year-old wine to demonstrate that the good ones cellar well;  then a sampling of both Cotes du Rhone,  and some of the named villages formerly in the Cotes du Rhone-Villages appellation.  They cost a little more.  This approach should give us a good feel for the wines of the district, and what price level to buy.

By and large Cotes du Rhone is based on Grenache, with varying amounts of Syrah.  Cheaper ones have Carignan and Cinsault in them, and don’t keep so well,  whereas the best cellar wines have more Mourvedre.  Many are raised in concrete, some in stainless,  some better ones in big old wood,  and a few modern ones have a touch of new oak.  We have 12 wines, ranging from the simplest Cotes du Rhone around $20, to representatives of the elite villages formerly in Cotes du Rhone-Villages, but some now with their own AOC,  such as Vacqueyras and Rasteau,  now in the $40s.  The whole idea is to find more affordable Cotes du Rhone-related wines with some of the quality, flavour and weight of Gigondas or Chateauneuf-du-Pape,  but at maybe half the price.

The wines will be tasted blind, on this occasion 25 ml samples were used,  then a vote on which is best (still blind),  before discussion of each sample,  to sort out why it is good,  bad or indifferent.”

The wines for tasting:

2015  Domaine Alary Cotes du Rhone La Gerbaude

2015  Domaine Les Aphillanthes Rasteau 1921

2015  Domaine de la Charbonniere Vacqueyras

2016   Delas Freres Cotes du Rhône Saint-Esprit

2014  Domaine des Espiers Gigondas

2016  Domaine Les Grands Bois Cotes du Rhone Les 3 Soeurs

2014  Domaine Les Grands Bois Cotes du Rhone-Villages Cairanne Cuvée Maximilien

2013  Maison Guigal Cotes du Rhône

2014  Jerome Quiot Vacqueyras

2016  Domaine Ogier Cotes du Rhône Heritages

2016  Famille Perrin La Vieille Ferme Ventoux

2008  Chateau de Saint Cosme Cotes du Rhone Les Deux Albion

The wines were, by and large, all enjoyable. As Geoff also wrote, “As the Australians used to say,  before they became more aware of of the wines of the world beyond their shores, in a warmer climate, vintage does not matter so much” so these wines were all drinkable and appreciated in their own way. The lighter, simpler offerings, like the 2014  Jerome Quiot Vacqueyras and the 2015  Domaine Alary Cotes du Rhone La Gerbaude I wasn’t that thrilled with myself, perhaps due to price point and related density of fruit, so I won’t be writing up the whole flight. I’ll concentrate on the wines I enjoyed most:

CDR worth cellaring 2

2013 Maison Guigal Cotes du Rhône – a reference Rhône rouge and a great ‘sighter’ for the flight. Very good flavour and fresh finish.  I have scored this at 90 points previously, and wouldn’t revisit that assessment.

2016 Domaine Ogier Cotes du Rhône Heritages Rhône – Good fruit weight and flavours, structure and body. Savoury  ‘garruige’ quality. Should hold well.

2016  Domaine Les Grands Bois Cotes du Rhone Les 3 Soeurs – another good wine at great value which I liked enough to buy following the tasting to review in more detail. It showed boldness and character and length, with lovely pepper and shrubby herb notes.

2014  Domaine des Espiers Gigondas Soeurs – from a famous appellation, showing a reductive complex character, fragrant, with the fruit aromas fading slightly in the glass as it sits. On the palate there is great fruit intensity and freshness. This was one to buy for the cellar.

2014  Domaine Les Grands Bois Cotes du Rhone-Villages Cairanne Cuvée Maximilien – from a new sub-regional appellation, with slight reduction, slight unripeness, but complex fruit flavours, fine grained tannins, herby finish with a celery note. Another one to buy for the cellar, and like three years ago, the importer had left none to sell!

2015  Domaine Les Aphillanthes Rasteau 1921 – fine aromatic quality, aromas of dark fruits. Lovely richness and body to this wine. Showed density and power and grace. Soft, long with a fresh finish. Delicious. Another one for the Pool Room!

What’s in the glass tonight April 5th – Graciano


Oveja Tinta Graciano 2016

Off Topic: Oveja Tinta Graciano Cuenca Espana 2016 – $

Graciano is one of Spain’s best kept wine secrets – a red grape with thick skins that is a tricky customer to grow, which means there’s precious little of it, even in the vineyards of the Rioja, where it is often called ‘the virtual grape’- and is a traditional ingredient in the wine of the same name.

Deep carmine colour. 14.5% alc.

Fruity and opulent.

High acid, refreshing and juicy. Great fruit depth and ripeness. Potential to age. Grunty.

Highly Recommended 90 Points

 

What’s in the glass tonight March 26th – Côtes du Rhône


E Guigal CdR 2013

Off Topic: E Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2013 – $

14% alc. Dark ruby.

This is the world’s foremost high-volume quality red wine. Here is this year’s vintage release, eagerly anticipated:

Earthy, spicy note. Dark red plums. Fresh.

Supple ripe dark red fruit flavours, medium tannins, grippy spicy finish. Zippy and spirited. Luscious mouthfeel. Strong, long. Quite striking.

This wine will last another 10+ years easy. Drinking so well now.

Highly Recommended 90 Points

What’s in the glass tonight March 8th – Shiraz Cabernet


I Am George Shiraz cabernet 2016

Off Topic: I.Am.George Shiraz Cabernet Limestone Coast Barossa 2016 – $$

14.6% alc. Inky crimson colour.

Rich and plum-y bold dark red-black fruits. Forward. Lifted.

Intense fruity flavours – very rich. Luscious, savoury and giving.  Medium-grained tannins. High and hot alcohol finish. Abso delicious drinking – front to back.

Highly Recommended 91 Points

What’s in the glass tonight Jan 4th– CdR Blanc


E Guigal Cotes Du Rhone Blanc 2015

Off Topic – E Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2015 – $$

Pale brilliant gold colour. 13.5% alc. 65% Viognier, 15% Rousanne, 8% Marsanne, balance of Bourboulenc and white Grenache

Floral nose of white peach and mandarin, with honey supporting.

Richness and body in the mouth. Flavours of apricots, the unctuousness of honey. A pure elegant and balanced wine. The weight of the Viognier is nicely moderated by the Rousanne and Marsanne.

Like a good Condrieu.

Highly Recommended 91 points

What’s in the glass tonight January 1st – Sancerre


Sancerre 2015

Off Topic: Dom. du Vieux Prêche Sancerre Blanc ASC 2016 – $$

Greenish pale straw colour. 13.5% alc.

My first ever Sancerre Blanc. A wine from one of the two spiritual homes of New Zealand’s most famous wine export, the other being Pouilly-Fumé on the other side of the Loire.

Flat aromatically, open steely and minerally. Curry spice and celery. Lightly fruited – apples, apple pip, exotic pip fruit, balanced acidity expressed on the nose.

Lean and flat in the mouth. Minerals. Funk. None of the ‘dash and splash’ I am used to with an NZ Sauvignon Blanc. No energy or verve in this wine, seems old before it’s time, too cautious. I don’t know enough about this wine to know whether this taste impression is authentic. It can be only confirmed by other bottles. And while I am interested to learn, life is short, and I may stick with what I know and love.

Looking at this wine in isolation, it is pleasant and moreish and drinkable. Like typical old world wines it improves on standing in the glass and with food, and opens up somewhat to show more fruit flavour, but it’s still thin. Emperors clothes, I feel, for this one.

Recommended 84 points

Aussie Holiday Wines


Oz - waterfall

L and I took the family on a short campervan holiday to Far North Queensland. We flew into Cairns and headed up to Cape Tribulation for a rainforest stay, then drove around the Atherton Tablelands before spending a couple of night on the coast at Ellis Beach. One of our memorable activities was swimming at Josephine Falls pictured above. Just lovely…

There wasn’t time or $$ to traverse the whole of the Australian wine styles on offer, but I thought to try a number of examples that I wouldn’t get to taste at home from the local Bottle-O.

Oz - Evans and Tate Metricup Rd Chardonnay

Evans & Tate Metricup Road Chardonnay Margaret River 2016 – $$
We have liked their Big&Buttery Chardonnay in the past. This is pale brilliantine straw colour. 13% alc. Lovely acidity and oiliness. Light and lean fruit. Crisp. Apples and melons on nose.

Oz - Langmeil Blockbuster
Langmeil Blockbuster Shiraz Barossa 2015 – $$
I really enjoyed wines from this producer from a showcase tasting a few years back. This is meaty and rich. Cacao. Cardboard box. Fine tannins. Expansive. Licorice and spice. Delicious.

Oz - Singing Rose
Mount Pleasant Singing in the Rain Rose Hunter Valley 2016 – $$
Bitter mandarine nose. Phenols. Sweet entry. Thin. Grassy note.

Oz - Devils Corner Pinot Noir
Devil’s Corner Pinot Noir Tasmania 2016 – $$
Lightly scented herby and savoury notes. Good fruit weight. Fine tannins. Drying. Simple and straightforward. Not a patch on a NZ Pinot, alas.

Oz - Leeuwin Reisling

Leeuvin Estate Art Series Riesling Margaret River 2016 – $$$
Fresh crisp and clean aromas of citrus and apples. Dry and lean and flinty. Flavours of citrus and grapes. Elegant. Short. Mouthwatering acid finish. A great wine to end our holiday

Oz - sav Blanc

We could’t escape a good clean Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc. This was enjoyed with fresh prawns and Moreton Bay bugs on the Antonia, moored wharfside as the Prawn Star Cafe in the Cairns Marina. A magic meal!

Oz - Sav Blanc 2

What’s in the glass tonight September 28th – 2003 Y. Chave Hermitage


Y Chave Hermitage 2003

Off Topic: Yann Chave Hermitage Rhone 2003- $$$+

Deep ruby crimson colour. 14 % alc.

Smokey on the nose, funky, soapy, dusty, redolent of wooden-floored halls and dry grass. So much going on! It continued opening up gloriously in the glass – all tertiary character, developed dark fruit, dried blackcurrant, pink roses, lavender and pencil lead. Such exotic gorgeousness!

Opens with still primary fruit in the mouth, flavours of dark cherries, and lovely acid balance. Fine tannins. Huge length. Fat, rich and opulent, and a pure, mimeral seam throughout. A profound Rhone, just amazing.

Exceptional 98 points