January 2010: Southern Rhône (France)

February 15, 2010 at 11:06 pm Leave a comment

Arnaud with Madame Guerin (his mother) visiting from Paris

There’s an art to knowing if a wine is good for that type of wine (varietal, region, etc) and not being swayed by your personal enjoyment of that wine (… is that even possible??)  This tasting had several wines where more than one taster thought the wine was “off” or even “corked” but when Arnaud showed up with his mom (pictured above), who was visiting from France, she had a sip and then said that she thought they were fine, that’s just how they taste.   In our point-driven wine world, the interesting idea to have a little think about is how much any given taster’s personal preferences determine the fate of a wine.  Okay, enough philosophizing …

This tasting focused on table wines from France’s Southern Rhône Valley, with the majority of the wines priced in the teens.  Tasters had pretty varying opinions on the wines (thus the tasters’ points are noted), but there was generally a pretty solid thread.  Note that price/subregion did not necessarily indicate success …

EXCELLENT (90-94 points)
Domaine Brusset 2007 les Travers Cairanne (91 points)
Retail: $21.99 | Case $17.59
Tasting Notes: Whoa – spice! Blackberry & clove. Definitely big fruit, ripe with dark, velvety black pepper notes. If I was a cloak wearing super hero … this is what I’d be drinking! (Gina, 93 pts) Tasting Notes: Very aromatic and attractive. Lots of dark fruit on the nose, with licorice and black olives. Fuller-bodied, but very complex and elegant. Good depth and length. Lots of dark fruit, raspberries and blackberries on the palate, with floral and herbal notes. Long, beautiful finish with fine tannins. Must be Chateauneuf or Gigondas. (Jens, 94 pts)


Chateau la Borie 2005 Côtes du Luberon
(90 points)
Retail: $17.50 | Case $14
Tasting Notes: Black fruit – all kinds, put into a pie and just starting to bake. The sweet spices peek through. The palate is lush like velvet with the perfect amount of tannin & acid. (Theresa, 94 pts) Tasting Notes: Black pepper & cooked spice in the nose. The palate is surprisingly smooth & balanced, though. Lots of ripe cherry & bold tannins. A little high in alcohol. (Gina, 84 pts) Tasting Notes: Bacon, BBQ, tasty, smoky … that’s it … (Arnaud, 91 pts)

Chateau Virgile 2007 Costieres de Nimes $15 (90 points)
Retail: $14.99 | Case $11.99
Tasting Notes: Bring some wild boar or something!! Gamey like we like them. Delicious, great potential … (Arnaud, 90 pts) Tasting Notes: Great ruby red. Layers of meat, bacon and pencil on the nose, elegant! Medium to full body. Baked prunes and a touch of cloves. (Fernando, 92 pts)

VERY GOOD (85-89 points)
Domaine de Font-Sane 2006 Gigondas (89 points)
Retail: $14.99 | Case $11.99
Tasting Notes: Ripe raspberries, strawberries, with wild flowers on the nose. Dense & deeply concentrated, but elegant and attractive. Medium- to full-bodied. Packed with dark & red fruit, dark olives & violets. Long finish with fine tannins. Will develop nicely. Gigondas or Chateauneuf? (Jens, 92 pts) Tasting Notes: Oh yes, life is good!!! This is delicious, big fruit, with serious but beautiful tannins. Nice & long aftertaste. (Arnaud, 91 pts) Tasting Notes: Black cherry cola, violets on the nose. Cedar spice with cinnamon and juicy berries on the palate. A finish with firm tannins with a grip! (Theresa, 88 pts)

Chateau de Montfaucon 2005 Baron Louis Côte du Rhône (89 points)
Retail: $14.99 | Case $11.99
Tasting Notes: Black cherries hide behind forest floor aromas. Oakiness is balanced by generous fruit and voluminous mouthfeel. (Chris, 92 pts) Tasting Notes: Very dark purple color, herbs of Provence on the nose and bread pudding, red meat and black pepper. Good acidity, long finish. (Fernando, 88 pts)

Chateau Val Joanis 2004 Côte du Luberon (88 points)
Retail: $24.99 | Case $19.99
Tasting Notes: Dark, concentrated aromas of dark fruit, dark olives, smoke and tobacco. Medium- to full-bodied. Complex, concentrated and elegant. Lots of fruit on the mid-palate. Smoke, spike, licorice, mixed with layers of dark fruit. Good tannins on the long, vibrant finish. (Jens, 93 pts) Tasting Notes: Dark inky color. Mint, tarragon & leather on the nose. Baked bread! And blackberries on the palate. Great tannins and great long finish!! (Fernando, 92 pts) Tasting Notes: I could smell this all night. The alcohol seems high on this, but I don’t care … it’s delicious! Black cherry, chewy, cinnamon & big tannins. I’d love to taste in another 5 years. (Gina, 91 pts) Tasting Notes: BBQ sauce, beef jerky, smoke & a touch of leather on the nose. Oak overwhelms fruit on the palate, though a touch of raspberries comes through. Chalky tannins come off green. (Chris, 87 pts)

Yves Cheron 2007 Côte du Rhône (87 points)
Retail: $14.99 | Case $11.99
Tasting Notes: Color medium red. Pleasant muted aromas of ocean breeze, fresh strawberries and ground white peppercorns. Medium body, flavorful & zesty. Lingering finish, slight bitterness at end. (Matt, 94 pts) Tasting Notes: Deep red color. Dark raisins and baked plums. Dry herbs on the palate, a touch of bitterness, medium body. (Fernando, 82 pts)

Domaine Le Clos des Lumieres 2007 Côte du Rhône (86 points)
Retail: $14.99 | Case $11.99
Tasting Notes: Nose – violets, caramel … the palate is rich with cooked plums, finishes easy, spices are subtle. Round mouthfeel with balanced tannins. (Gina, 93 pts) Tasting Notes: Bouquet of blueberries, plum & lavender, soft elegant palate, clipped finish. (Chris, 88 pts)

GOOD (80-85 points)
Domaine Catherine Le Goeuil 2007 Cairanne (82 points)
Retail: $22.99 | Case $18.39
Tasting Notes: Yeasty bread dough on the nose, medicinal. (Chris, 83 pts) Tasting Notes: I don’t get much fruit in the nose … a funky, earthy aroma. Fruit is a little disjointed on palate also. Some minerals & ripe cherry. (Gina, 83 pts) Tasting Notes: Compote of dry fruit. Long finish, not much on the palate. Sorry!! (Fernando, 82 pts)

January Tasting Panel:  Jens Strecker, Gina Gregory, Theresa Slechta, Matt Gubitosa, Fernando Martinez, Chris Nishiwaki, Arnaud Guerin & guest David Autrey of Westrey Wine Company (OR).

Jens (owner, Portalis Wines) & Fernando (chef, Purple Café)

Guest taster, David Autrey, Westrey Wine Company

Matt Gubitosa (winemaker, Animale) & Chris Nishiwaki (journalist)

Theresa Slechta (Vinum) & Arnaud Guerin (Elliott Bay)

The following wines are in-stock or can be ordered at:
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar
email: info@portaliswines.com
phone: 206-783-2007

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December 2009: Sparkling Wines February 2010: Chianti DOCG (Tuscany)

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