Les Tastevins du Lac is dedicated to camaraderie in pursuit of joie de vino! This blog serves as an informal forum on wine, food and travel.... Cheers! Steve Adams


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Coteaux du Languedoc Grand Cru ...

We've been wanting to try this cuvee for a while, and the challenge has been to find it at a reasonable price (which happens only rarely).  
The 2006 La Peira en Damaisela Coteaux du Languedoc Terrasses du Larzac la Peira certainly vies for the most descriptive name for a wine.  It is the "grand cru" version of La Peira's wines and is priced at three times the Las Flors cuvee which has been a continual favorite of this blog.
This 2006 La Peira is a massive and intoxicating wine with almost port-like intensity in its blackberry fruit. At this stage of development, it could easily be perceived as a New World Syrah.
The blend on this premier cuvee is 70% Syrah, 30% Grenache (as compared to the Las Flors which is 40% Syrah, 40% Grenache and 20% Mourvedre.)  The difference between the two cuvees is striking and, to me, the Las Flors is the more attractive wine due to the wonderful Mourvedre component - which gives the Las Flors a more floral nose and well-balanced palate.  The minerality apparent in the Las Flors seems a bit wanting in the La Peira "grand cru".
Don't get me wrong - this wine is a stunner and disappeared very quickly from the bottle --- it's impossible to stay away from once opened. 
Is this grand cru cuvee worth three times the price of the Las Flors?  Only time will tell, yet I don't see the three remaining bottles of this wine remaining in my cellar for more than a year --- it's just too good to hold back on...
As a final note, the true grail for La Peira aficionados may be the Coteaux du Languedoc Terrasses du Larzac "Matissat", which is 100% Mourvedre.  If the influence of Mourvedre on the Las Flors is any indication, then the Matissat cuvee will likely prove very special indeed... 
Sadly, the Matissat from any vintage seems impossible to find in the U.S. market ...
However, since La Peira is imported into the U.S. by Charlotte-based Eric Solomon, then perhaps there is hope for securing a bit of this elusive cuvee ... stay tuned.

A Return to Les Beaux-Monts

Les Beaux Monts vineyard in Vosne-Romanee is becoming a favorite due to its alluring complexity and age-worthiness.

This example of the excellent 1999 vintage from Daniel Rion & Fils provides a seductive red cherry and spice-filled palate with wonderful balance between fruit and acidity that complements grilled veal chops. 
The initial bouquet was typical violet and baking spices –-- however a fascinating development occurred after five to six hours when the wine exhibited absolutely intoxicating aromatics of licorice and pine. 
Beautiful light ruby color with garnet robe... 

A reference point for Syrah ...

A friend recently wrote me about a limited production cuvee made by Adam Tolmach of Ojai Vineyards.  It is the 1997 Henry Daniel Syrah, which is named after Tolmach's son.

A true northern Rhone-style blend, this Syrah is cut with 5% Viognier that typically adds floral notes to the nose.  The regular cuvee Thompson Vineyard Syrah I have had from Ojai are long-lived, fascinating wines with a signature coffee - anise flavor profile. 
I look forward to tasting this special cuvee from a winemaker who is a reference point for New World Syrah.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Ciò che un sangiovese gloriosa ...

When Brunello strikes, it is a thing of beauty ...

The 1995 Canalicchio di Sopra Brunello di Montalcino Le Gode di Montosoli underscores the graciousness of this vintage in Tuscany.  Lovely nose of fruit, roses and cedar with amazing vibrancy of palate ... cherry, smoke and saddle that just continued opening up until the bottle was gone all too soon.  Older vintages from Le Gode di Montosoli vineyard are a bit of a rare bird and worth looking out for ... 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tuscan glory ...

What better way to celebrate a special occasion than with a lovely Brunello di Montalcino from the incredible 1990 vintage!

The "Rennina" from the Pieve Santa Restituta estate is an example of how beautifully Sangiovese can age... velvety dark cherry with roasted hazelnut overtones and a slightly subdued nose of rose petals and spice.  Rennina typically spends 24 months in oak before being bottled.  The color of this version was dark and voluptuous, belying its 23 years of age...
Pieve Santa Restituta has enjoyed a relationship with Angelo Gaja going back to the late 1980's. 
The Gaja family purchased the estate in 1994, and it has continued to represent a benchmark for quality in the Brunello di Montalcino appellation.

1997 vintage in Cote de Nuits

The 1997 vintage from Burgundy is reliable (if under-rated), and the wines are drinking well right now.  Case in point is the 1997 Vosne-Romanee Les Beaumonts from Dominique Laurent, who has a reputation for making his wines in a more "modern" style. 

A neighbor to the grand cru vineyards of Les Richebourgs and Echezeaux, the Les Beaumonts vineyard is one of the more prestigious premier cru's.  Since the vineyard is a bit higher in elevation, the fruit ripens slightly later and the wines typically need more time to balance out after bottling. 
This fine example opened up beautifully after two hours (decanted) and exhibited glorious red cherry with sous bois and nose of violets... paired perfectly with rack of lamb.

Purity of fruit ...

Enjoyed recently is the 2006 Agharta - a wine from northern California that is a southern Rhone-styled blend of 84% Grenache, 14% Syrah and 2% Viognier.

Pax Mahle is the winemaker behind this extraordinary cuvee ... it spends an incredible 52 months aging (70% in oak, 30% in stainless steel) prior to being bottled for release.  The result is an extremely well balanced wine with satin-textured blackberry fruit.  I can think of only one other wine that compares to Agharta in terms of absolute perfect expression of fruit and typicity for Grenache - the Domaine la Barroche Chateauneuf-du-Pape Pure ...

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The sublime 2005 vintage

The 2005 vintage of pinot noir in Northern California is one of the best, and here are three interesting versions...

Let's start with the favorite of the evening, the Kanzler, which has been lauded before on this blog.  For me, the 2005 is still considered a reference point for Kanzler vineyard-derived pinot noir.  This wine seduces from the start with incredible purity of fruit--- almost overwhelming even at 8 years of age --- it clearly has a long life ahead.  Even with the massive fruit, it is still a very well-balanced California pinot with the gorgeous earthiness typical of the Kanzler vineyard.  Check out this video that Steve Kanzler recorded... it is a tour of his vineyard (he planted it himself in 1996) with fascinating detail on the pinot noir clones, soils, methods, etc...

Next in the line-up in order of preference is the venerable Martinelli Biondi Home Ranch, again a wine that has been a favorite here.  Nicely balanced fruit and acidity... lovely and not at all tiring on the palate ... I find this interpretation of the Biondi vineyard more burgundian in nature that some of the other Martinelli cuvees.

This is the first time we've had the Radio-Coteau version of Savoy Vineyard.  To be honest, it is a bit underwhelming.  Savoy Vineyard is a northernmost outpost for pinot noir in (all the way up in Mendocino County)... gorgeous pine-scented nose and a bit of menthol in the palate... nice raspberry fruit up front, but ultimately a one-dimensional effort (hollow on the mid-palate), especially for such a great vintage.  In my experience, the definitive cuvee from Savoy Vineyard is made by Stewart Dorman of Adrian Fog Winery.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Bourgogne blanc ciel

Beautiful wines are like people ... the older they get, the more interesting their story becomes.

I've always enjoyed Jean-Marc Boillot's Premier Cru Volnay's --- long-lived, refined and gorgeous pinot noir.  However, his chardonnay is something special. 

JM Boillot's 1995 Puligny-Montrachet Clavoillon deserves special merit for its longevity and amazing complexity.  Lemon - honey - beeswax palate with come-hither minerality that makes you wish you had another bottle ...

If a premier-cru white Burgundy is this good after 18 years, then what would a grand-cru be like?