Tasting No. 212 – July 29, 2019 – Spain – Not Only Tempranillo

Club del Vino

 

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Montsant

Tasting Overview  

Spain produced 44,400 hl. of wine in 2018 and was the third in volume after Italy and France. However,it is first in terms of surface planed with grapevines with a 13 percent of the world planted surface followed by France and Italy. Sapinsh wines have been known internationally mostly through wines from Rioja  and Rivera del Duero (made essentially with the Tempranillo variety) the sparkling Cava for Catalonia and the Jerez from de Cadiz Region in Andalucia.

Some records estimate that over 600 grape varieties are planted throughout Spain but 80% of the country’s wine production is focused on only 20 grape varieties. The most widely planted grape is the white wine grape Airén, prized for its hardiness and resistance to drop. The red wine grape Tempranillo is the second most widely planted grape variety, recently eclipsing Garnacha in plantings in 2004. It is known throughout Spain under a variety of synonyms that may appear on Spanish wine labels-including Cencibel, Tinto Fino and Ull de Llebre. Both Tempranillo and Garnacha are used to make the full-bodied red wines associated with the Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Penedès with Garnacha being the main grape of the Priorat region. In the Levante region, Monastrell and Bobal have significant plantings, being used for both dark red wines and dry rosé.

In the northwest, the white wine varieties of Albariño and Verdejo are popular plantings in the Rías Baixas and Rueda respectively. In the Cava producing regions of Catalonia and elsewhere in Spain, the principal grapes of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel·lo are used for sparkling wine production as well as still white wines. In the southern Sherry and Malaga producing regions of Andalucia, the principal grapes are Palomino and Pedro Ximénez. As the Spanish wine industry becomes more modern, there has been a larger presence of international grape varieties appearing in both blends and varietal forms-most notably Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot and Sauvignon blanc. Other Spanish grape varieties that have significant plantings  include Cariñena, Godello, Graciano, Mencia, Loureira, and Treixadura.

The  main objective of this tasting is to explore wines for different regions of Spain made from varieties different from tempranillo.  The presenters have selected wines from Bierzo (made with the Mencía variety) , Jumilla (based on Monastrel blended with Granache and Syrah), Priorat and Montsant (both blends of several varieties produced in these two wine regions in Cataluña).

Type of Tasting: Open

Wines presenters: Orlando Mason and Alfonso Sanchez

These are the wines:

  1. 2017 Bodegas Raul Perez,  Ultreia, St. Jacques, Mencía, Bierzo
  2. 2015 Casa Castillo, Las Gravas, Jumilla
  3. 2011  La Conreria d’Scala Dei, Les Notes Iugiter, Priorat
  4. 2005 Baronia del Montsant, Clos Englora AV 14

This is the menu (still to be confirmed):

  1. Mushroom risotto
  2. Mushrooms and meat tortellini  in aurora sauce
  3. Cesar salad
  4. Grilled lamb with potatoes and vegetables
  5. Desert/Coffee

Participants: 

Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from various internet sources)

2017 Bodegas Raul Perez,  Ultreia, St. Jacques, Mencía, Bierzo

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: Floral, spicy aromas with hints of underbrush. Juicy, well-structured red fruit with great vibrancy and length on the palate. A long finish is marked by hints of herbs, coffee bean, and tomato leaf.

Decanter: A field blend of Mencia, Alicante Bouschet, Pan y Carne and some white varieties, fermented with natural yeast in old oak tanks using 100% stems and no temperature control. It undergoes malo in tank and then spends one year in old barrels. There’s no remontage or pigeage, and he works without sulphites. This has bright, fresh blueberry and cranberry fruit with a rasp of tannin and a savoury, saline sign-off. Drinking Window 2020 – 2024.

RP: The clean, floral and 2017 Ultreia Saint Jacques comes mostly from old vineyards from different soils in Valtuille and Villadecanes fermented in stainless steel and oak vats with part of full clusters and matured in used barriques for one year. It’s produced in a fresh and very drinkable way. This is one of the best values from Bierzo and Spain, and a great introduction to Bierzo. It’s a more serious wine than what the wine was when it was first produced, fresh and elegant. It’s very reliable and a great value.

Mencía: Wine.com.Calling the far western appellations of the Iberian Peninsula home, Mencia was once only deemed capable of producing simple and light red wines. But post-phylloxera growers only planted this variety on low, fertile plains, which produced high yields and uncomplicated finished wines. The recent rediscovery of the ancient, abandoned vines planted on rugged hillsides of deep schist has unveiled the potential of Mencia and added discredit to its old reputation. Primarily found in the Bierzo, Ribeira Sacra and Valdeorras regions of Spain and in the Dão of Portugal (where it is called Jaen), Mencia is an early ripening, low acid grape that can produce wines of great concentration, complexity and ageability.

In the Glass: The best Mencia possess characters such as raspberry, red currant, boysenberry, pomegranate, black licorice, spice cake, black pepper, Asian spice and crushed gravel. Some styles remain light and fruit dominant while the more serious versions, aged in new oak, will be more complex and concentrated.

Food Pairings:Excellent with all manner of meat dishes: Steak au Poivre, corned beef, charcuterie, game, carne asada, etc, Mencia will also work with many vegetarian dishes such as grilled portabello, mushroom risotto, wild rice pilaf and smoked tofu.

Sommelier Secret: Never had Mencia? Well if you like Pinot Noir and other aromatic reds (like Gamay), definitely investigate Mencia. Many affordable options abound as well as higher-end, more complex versions. Often the latter contain other varieties for adding depth and complexity, or come from the extremely old vines.

The Winery:  One of the few northwestern Spanish regions with a focus on a red variety, Bierzo, part of Castilla y León, is home to the flowery and fruity Mencia grape. Mencia produces balanced and bright red wines full of strawberry, raspberry, pomegranate, baking spice, pepper and black licorice. The well-drained soils of Bierzo are slate and granite. Raul Perez was born into a winemaking family, Bodegas Castro Ventosa, the largest owner of Mencia plantings in Bierzo. Raul grew up developing his ideals and worked at the family winery until 2003. His reluctance to compromise has made him both controversial and popular. Bodegas Raul Perez produces extra limited, handcrafted, artisinal wines from varieties such as Albarino, Mencia, Bastardo and Godello from northwestern Spain.

Villegas is one of the vineyards most appreciated by Raúl Pérez. It is located in Valtuille de Abajo,, cradle of the winery in El Bierzo. It has a nascent orientation to the south and peculiar soils for the area. If El Bierzo has an abundance of clay soils, in Villegas we find a sandy soil. The vineyard is around 600 meters high, and dates back 130 years. The largest profusion of grapes is of the mencía variety, although we also find vineyards of garnacha tintorera and bastardo.

Read more at: https://www.raulperez.com/en/

2015 Casa Castillo, Las Gravas, Jumilla

The Wine: Winemaker Notes. Not surprising Las Gravas comes from a profoundly rocky, single vineyard of the same name. You’d also be hard pressed to call it soil since before you can get to anything resembling dirt you have to go through a foot of stones. While the other cuvées from the estate show the unique expression of site and variety, Las Gravas is a broader lesson in terroir and the varieties that thrive here. Las Gravas is harvested by hand and fermented in underground stone tanks with manual pigeage. Once primary fermentation is complete the wine is aged in 500 liter French oak demi-muids for 18 months. In most vintages only 20% of the barrels are new.

Robert Parker’s Wine AdvocateThe 2015 Las Gravas is a classic Mediterranean blend of Monastrell with 15% each Garnacha and Syrah, with 15% alcohol after fermenting with part of full clusters and indigenous grapes and aging in used oak barrels for 19 months. 2015 is the last vintage that Las Gravas has some Syrah, as it adds some sweet fruit he wants to avoid. However, it shows fresh within the balsamic profile, with plenty of rosemary and thyme notes combined with floral undertones and the character of the esparto grass and tree bark that are textbook descriptors of the variety.

The Monastrel grape is found in abundance in Central Spain and Southern France (where it’s known as Mourvèdre).  Thought to have originated in Spain, it is now grown extensively throughout the Iberian Peninsula, southern France, California and South Australia. Spanish Monastrell wines tend to be rich, dark affairs, frequently showing flavors of blackberry and black cherry. Dpending on the blend these wines are reminiscent of those of Laguedoc and Southern Rhone.

Monastrel’s meaty, herby aromas are very distinctive, as are its strong tannins. These qualities make it a potent ingredient for blending, most often with vibrant, rich Grenache and structured, spicy Syrah. Other classic southern French varieties such as Carignan and Cinsaut are also frequent blending partners for Mourvedre, more because of tradition and convenience (they grow in similar places and ripen almost simultaneously) than flavor or aroma. Single-variety Mourvedre or Monastrell wines are not particularly common, but as the curiosity of the average wine consumer increases, so more and more producers are experimenting with making wines from 100 percent Mourvedre. In France, Mourvedre is a key variety in both Provence and the southern Rhone Valley, where it is a regular compenent in Cotes du Rhone and Chateauneuf-du-Pape blends.

The Winery: Wine.com Casa Castillo in the region of Jumilla is a property that has been producing wine since 1874. This tradition continued with a winery built by a French company in 1910 when phylloxera forced them out of their vineyards in France. Jumilla is one of the few places in Spain that has successfully resisted the infestation of phylloxera, hence making it an ideal place for this new winery. Like many Rhone wine merchants, they were interested in Monastrell (Mourvedre) based wine.

The Roch family acquired the property in 1941. Julia Roch and her grandson, José Maria Vicente, have been recovering the artisanal origins of this estate, making significant strides in the integrity and quality of winemaking.

2005 Baronia del Montsant Clos Englora AV 14 – Montsant

The Wine: The Clos Englora’s name comes from about one of the emblematic tops of the Montsant’s range, which tops highs more than 1000 mts above sea level. Our logotype is an abstract and personal representation of the mentioned top. The AV14 nomenclature means that the grapes we have used come from “aged vineyards”, and the number 14, is approximately the time that wine remains in barrels. The wine is blend of Red Grenache (37%), Carignan (21%), Merlot (14%), Cabernet Sauvignon (12%), Syrah (8%), Cabernet Franc (4%), Monastrell (2%) and Tempranillo (2%).

RP: Wine Advocate-Montsant, Spain- “It offers up a perfume of crushed stone, smoke, espresso, Asian spices, black cherry, and blackberry leading to a rich, opulent, layered wine with tons of fruit, plenty of spice.

The Winery: In Montsant area we principally elaborate red wine, and among the different varieties we can point up Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo), Samsó (cariñena) and purple Garnacha. We have to mention the velvety, complex and meaty characteristics of these wines, which predispose them to a long maturing in wood. Among the varieties used for the elaboration of white vines, we can point out the white Garnacha which produces aromatic and silky wines.There are few hectares of vineyards under this mark of origin. The average is about 2,500 stocks of vine per hectare and they produce an average of 2 kg. per stock.

The characteristic orography of the region, with sharp slopes, makes difficult and hard the work of the farmers, but the fruits that grow have a unique personality. The grounds that form the region of Priorat come from a first extract of sediments formed during the Palaeozoic. Later, during the Mesozoic, this first disposition was followed by a series of violent granite eruptions, which became the base of the present shape of the region. The granite transformed the Palaeozoic sediments into the typical “licorelles” (zones of slaty aspect, of dark colour) and “codols” (rolling stones).

There is a Mediterranean weather that is slightly changed by the common northeastern winds. The temperature is moderate, with an annual average of 16º C. In the cold season, frosts are strange and there is an average of three days of snow per year. The rainy days are of 500 mm per year, and the daily sunshine average is of 7.3 hours.

Read more about  here: http://www.baronia-m.com/lliure/null/1?lang=en

2011  La Conreria d’Scala Dei, Les Notes Iugiter, Priorat

The Wine: Indicative blend: Garnatxa negra, Samsó (Carignan) and Cabernet Sauvignon. intense, dark plum and rich, jammy fruit aromas combined with notes of cassis and tobacco. rich and smooth with juicy fruit on the palate, plenty of mineral seasoning and rounded with silky tannins. Notes: Drink now-2025. The wine is aged for 14 months in Allier French oak barrels and followed by another 18 months of rest in the bottle.

WE: Despite showing some heat and raisiny character up front, this compact Priorat smells schisty and Port-like in the best way. A full-bodied, wall-to-wall palate manages to stay smooth, while this tastes not only of ripe blackberry and dark plum, but also of Priorat’s minerally soils. A silky feel cuddles complex flavors of dark fruits and hot stones on a fine finish. Drink through 2024.

Intense cherry color. Aroma powerful and complex with notes of red fruits and snuff, fine notes of Reduction that gives way to species and herbs Mediterranean. Golós and intense in the mouth, very tannin Mature, mineral expression in the final end of the mouth. Very fine and elegant. It is recommended to decant it.

The Winery:  Read about this winery at: http://www.vinslaconreria.com/index.php/10-english/39-home

 CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here:

Best Rated Wine: TBA

Best Buy: TBA

Technical Notes (TBA)

Summary notes about the regions included in this tasting

 Bierzo

The Bierzo is a Spanish Denominación de Origen (DO) for wines located in the northwest of the province of León (Castile and León, Spain) and covers about 3,000 km². It borders on the provinces of Ourense, Lugo and Asturias in the north and in the south on areas of La Montaña, la Cabrera and La Meseta, in Léon.  The first written reference to the Bierzo region, whose name derives from the pre-Roman city of Bergidum, is from Pliny the Elder. The Romans developed agriculture, introduced new crops including Vitis vinifera vines, and new technology such as the Roman plough. However, the greatest expansion of viticulture was related to the growth of the monasteries, especially the Cistercian order, during the Middle Ages. After centuries of production and after having achieved a good reputation in the markets of Galicia and Asturias, the Bierzo vineyards suffered a terrible blow in the 19th century when the phylloxera plague practically wiped them out. There was a severe economic crisis which forced many people to emigrate. Production was slowly re-established thanks to the technique of grafting onto new world root stocks and wine production gradually recovered to assume the significant economic role it had played in the past. In 1989 the Bierzo Denominación de Origen was officially recognized.

The wines produced under the Bierzo DO must be made only with the varieties that are authorised by the Consejo Regulador (Regulatory Council).

  • Red grapes: Mencia, Alicante Bouschet (Garnacha Tintorera), (experimental: Tempranillo, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • White grapes: Doña Blanca, Godello, Palomino, (experimental: Malvasía, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer)

The Bierzo is a land of many things. It is a place of passage of the Camino de Santiago, which makes its last stop through these lands before crossing to Galicia. It is a place of mining, a trade that comes from ancient, as the incredible Roman mines of the Marrows, which are World Heritage Sites. It’s a land of chestnuts, maybe the best in Spain. And it’s a land of wine. To say wine for these lioness lands is to say Mencía. A grape considered until very recently as inferior. Along with the Tempranillo, Grenache, Bobal and Monastrell it is one of the five majority varieties of the native Spanish red grape.

As with Grenache or Monastrell,the Mencía grape has long been relegated. But fortunately for our palates, the time has come to rediscover it. And as is often the matter, the problem was not with the grape, but of how to treat it.

The Romans introduced the cultivation of vines in this area. Later, during the Middle Ages, Cistercian monks spread their cultivation throughout much of the region. But beyond growing the grapes in the area, Bierzo’s wines were not valued. They were held for rough table wines.

The best grapes grow on the slopes of the Bercian sun. In that Appellation of Origin, a new generation of young winemakers ignored the mencías growing vigorously in the fertile Sil Valley and preferred instead those growing in the harsh mountains of the Bercian basin (now known as the wine belt of El Bierzo). As with wine, the strains that grow in the most difficult conditions are the most sought after.The centuries-old hillside vines that were still scattered here and there and the slate soils were the ideal raw materials material of a new generation of modern and quality wines. These were vines plated at relatively high altitude, with little water and low yield that unknown until then, with an extraordinary aging capacity and evolution.

Alvaro Palacios soon joined this generation of new winemakers”. As he had done with the resurgence of Priorat, in Catalonia, he thought that this area had much potential to exploit its wines in a more delicate and professional way. There he installed in 1999 the winery “Descendientes de J. Palacios”, in which you can find wines such as the popular Pétalos del Bierzo, which in 2014 was rated by Robert Parker as the best wine in Spain for its value for money. Another example is the Corullon. Located in a higher price range, it is a wine of power and energy, but a lot of freshness, it is what is given in the mouth.

High quality wines. Usually, the wines of this Mencía produced in the surrounding mountains, which is how it began to be produced in Roman times, are light and fresh. His key is on the ground. Unlike the grapes grown until then in the fertile Bierzo Valley, they grow in poor soils, on slopes located at altitudes of around 800 meters.

 

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Tasting No. 211 – June 24, 2019-Rhone Wines

Club del Vino

 

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Tasting Overview  

The  main objective of this tasting is to assess and compare wines from three different regions of the Rhone Valley.

The Rhone region  (see map) is located in the southeast of France on the river of the same name that runs from north to south from the Swiss Alps to Marseille (500 miles) and is mainly dedicated to the production of red wines (95%).  These are characterized by a higher alcohol content (14-15%) than in the rest of France (13-13.5%).  It is divided into four sub-regions, the two most important are the southern one with  the largest volume of production, and the northern one that produces the most prestigious wines of the region and that compete with those of Bordeaux and Burgundy. There are wine production records in the region since 71AD but its boom came when Pope Clement V moved the pontifical headquarters to Avignon in 1309.  About 75 percent of the wines for the papal court were from Rhone. Chateauneuf du Pape comes from there), the rest were from Burgundy.

The north Rhone region is home to the well-known appellations of Crozens–Hermitage and Hermitage which, being on the right side of the river, are favored by  the setting sun.  This region is the land of the Syrah grape, which is the only red grape allowed in wines, and Viognier for whites along with the Marsanne and Roussanne in the appellations of Condrieu and Chateau Grillet.  Whites are opulent and full-bodied. Vineyards are mainly family properties in steep slopes of the river and more than half of the wine is bottled by “negotiants” or traders (Chapoutier, Delas, Guigal,etc.). Northern reds are famous for their ability to age and improve over time (a good Hermitage is only optimal for drinking after 8 or up to 10 years of bottling).  Whites are at their point between 18 months and four years.

The southern Rhone region is very different in its topography (flat) and its wines, most are mixtures of various grapes and are lighter, because of the Grenache grape, that the northern ones dominated by the Syrah.  Even though the Syrah is booming, and is used in the blends to extend the life of the wine, Grenache is the most cultivated and is combined mostly with Carignan, Cinsault (Hermitage) and Mouverdre.. Reds tend to be fruity, with light species and herbs and tannins while northern reds are more chocolatey with flavors of black fruits, mocha and tobacco and stronger tannins characteristic of the Syrah grape. Cooperatives make about 70 percent of the wine, but there are appellations such as Chateauneuf du Pape, Cotes du Rhone and Cotes du Rhone Villages within which 20 Villages (Villages) can add their name to the wine label (i.e. Giocondas, Vacqueiras, etc.). Rules here limit the yield of the vineyard to no more than 42 hl/ha (usually 50 or more in other regions) and require a minimum of 12.5 percent alcohol. No rosé production is allowed in the appellations of Chateauneuf but this occurs in the other Appellations in the region in important quantities and of good quality (only rosé is allowed in AC Tavel). Southern reds can last up to 25 years but do not improve over time after about 6 years and whites should be drunk young (maximum two years).

Climate: In the north it is continental with very cold winters and very warm summers suitable for robust grapes.  In the south it is Mediterranean suitable for fruit trees and vineyards. Common risks are rains during flowering in the north, frost and cold winds (mistral) in the south, and excessive rains in the fall that favor fungi.  Any one of those phenomena can ruin the crops.

Soils.  The north soils are granite residuals from the Massif Central of volcanic origin with excellent drainage, micas, flint and limestone residues.  In the south they are clay with gravel and limestone rock residue.

Type of Tasting: Blind

Wines presenters: Alberto Gómez, Jaime Jaramillo, Jairo Sánchez

These are the wines: TBA

  1. 2015 Nobles Rives, Cave de Tain, Crozes-Hermitage Blanc
  2. 2015 Vieilles Vignes, Domaine La Milliere, Chateaneuf Du Pape
  3. 2014 Le Pas de L’Aigle, Pierre Amadieu, Gigondas
  4. 2015 Les Hauts Lieux, Maison de Nuziere, Cote Rotie

This is the menu:

  • Gazpacho
  • Cheese plate
  • Veal ravioli
  • Beef Bourguignon
  • Dessert/Coffee

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Jorge Claro, Clara Estrada, Jorge García, Alberto Gómez, Jaime Jaramillo, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, Jorge Requena, Jairo Sanchez, Cristian Santelices,  Pedro Turina, German Zincke

Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from various internet sources) .

2015 Nobles Rives, Cave de Tain, Crozes-Hermitage Blanc

The Wine: Elegant and racy, with citrus spiked acidity nicely balanced by ripe pear, tropical apple and a hint of orange. Another terrific value from this acclaimed cooperative. Crozes-Hermitage white wines, made from Marsanne and Roussanne, are typically dry and medium-bodied, with rich flavors of white fruits and almonds.

GRAPES – Blend Marsanne and Roussan; STYLE – Elegant; TASTE — Citrus, Pear; BODY — Medium-bodied

The Winery: Shaped by our winegrowers, with its little dry stone walls, the imposing hill exposes its steep, south-facing terraces, sheltered from the northerly winds. The plain of Valence stops at its foot in the south, and in the west the Doux valley allows for a dip in the Ardeche plateau, prolonging the late afternoon sun exposure.  The vine culture on the Hermitage dates back over 2000 years and contributes to the legend. On these terraces, the work is done entirely by hand, the small walls stabilize the soil and the stakes (traditional wooden pegs) guide the vine. Cave de Tain, continues to embrace the traditions of tying the vines with straw, with that fine action of quickly and precisely tying “straw knots”: it takes years to master it!

Read more at: https://www.cavedetain.com/en/

2015 Vieilles Vignes, Domaine La Milliere, Chateaneuf Du Pape

The Wine: As described by winemaker: Stamp of fruity black cherry and floral peony aromas, behind those are spicy cacao and Prevencal heath scents. Powerful fleshy mouth-filling palate with dominant generous ripe small black fruit, the freshness of licorice and sweet spice. A long, expressive final, finishing with well-balanced spices.

Wine Advocate: “The 2015 Chateauneuf de Pape Vieilles Ville is a meaty, peppery, olive and dark fruit-driven effort that has a medium to full-bodied richness and a classic, old-school vibe.”

Vivino: Bold, a bit tannic, dry and not so acidic.

GRAPES — Shiraz/Grenache/Mourvedre; STYLE — Intense; TASTE Spice, Raspberry; BODY Full-bodied

The Winery:  Our vines delve deep into stony ground heated by the hot Provence sun and swept by the powerful Mistral wind. The priority is given to manual over mechanical; this includes a manual harvest, thinning, grassing and tilling etc. Our vineyards spread over 26 hectares: 14 ha are planted in the named area of “Cabrières” in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation area, 7 ha is shared between the production of the grapes for the Côtes du Rhône Villages and  Côtes du Rhône; while 5 ha is the source of theVin de Pays de Vaucluse. The oldest vines were planted between 1891 and 1920.   Cotes du Rhone complete their slow maturing in vats to retain their fresh, fruity characteristics. Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cru weds the old turns to peaceably fill out over 12 to 15 months

Read more at: http://www.la-milliere.com/en/

2014 Le Pas de L’Aigle, Pierre Amadieu, Gigondas

The Wine: As described by the winemaker: Deep dark color, intense nose and jammy fruit complex (prunes, figs) announce a silky mouth where delicate woven red fruit aromas with  spice and strength of jammy black fruit, bloom in a  superbly spicy and peppery final, impressive in length.

Vinous: “Deep red. Intensely perfumed raspberry, cherry and spicecake scents are complemented by hints of pungent flowers and chalky minerals…Flavors show impressive energy, and a spine of minerality adds definition and vibrant lift. Finishes very long…”

Vivino: Bold, more tannic than smooth, dry, somewhat acidic. Big fruit initially, medium soft tannins and spicy finish. GRAPES —  Shiraz/Grenache/Mourvedre; STYLE -Intense; TASTE — Spice, Black Fruit; BODY — Full-bodied

The Winery: The vineyard is 45 years old on average guarantying a very high level quality. The old vines of the domain correspond to the first plantations of the founder. Grapes are harvested by hand for a perfect sorting. From wine making up to the bottling the business is constantly in research of the perfect balance between the wine grower’s know-how and terroirs’ expression. The founder is a pioneer in several domains selecting wines, then buying in the 1950s, two properties, historically linked: Romane and La Machotte, becoming the largest estate of Gigondas with 137 ha of vines.

The expression of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault (for rosé) and Clairette (for white wine) on these terroirs among the highest of the appellation, is very personalized: wines are powerfully spiced. A smaller part of the vineyard (7 hectares) is in contrast in the Southwestern part of Gigondas. It is mainly planted with Mourvèdre, which grapes bring sunny and wild notes to the cuvée as well as the sharpness of sandier soils.

Read more at: http://www.pierre-amadieu.com/nos-actualites/en/

2015 Les Hauts Lieux, Maison de Nuziere, Cote Rotie 

The Wine: Wine Spectator: “Solidly built, with lots of savory and bay leaf notes, followed by lightly steeped raspberry, red currant and fig fruit flavors. Light leather, sanguine and iron details flash through the finish, adding length and range.”

Vivino: Bold, tannic, dry and acidic.

VARIETAL Shiraz; STYLE  Fresh; TASTE  Black Fruit, Cassis, Pepper; BODY  Full-bodied

The Winery: Established in Condrieu since 1876, Maison Denuziere now owns vineyards in the Cornas and Condrieu apellations. This new rooting in the vineyard, supplemented by grape contracts, now allows it to vinify and raises in its cellars a fine selection of wine from the norther Rhone Valley. The know-how and expertise of the house are also found in the supply work it operates in the greater Rhone Valley. Rich with a history more than a century old, the values of Maison Denuziere are attached to the prestigious terroirs of the regions. Freshness, flesh and purity of the fruit, the combination of a precise contemporary vinification and a pampered grape characterize the cuvées.

CV Members Rating 

View full evaluation here: 211 Summary of Tasting Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2014 Le Pas de L’Aigle, Pierre Amadieu, Gigondas 

Best Buy: 2014 Le Pas de L’Aigle, Pierre Amadieu, Gigondas 

Technical Notes 

Jairo Sanchez compiled a detailed note (including several maps) about the Rhone Region that you can read here: Rhone valley 211

 

 

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Tasting No. 210 – May 20, 2019 – Washington State Wines

Club del Vino

 

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Tasting Overview  

The  main objective of this tasting is to explore wines from Washington State and assess differences among three main red varietals.

Type of Tasting: Blind

Wines presenters: Jorge Claro, Cristian Santelices

These are the wines:

  1. 2017 Chateau Ste Michelle. Riesling Dry, Columbia Valley
  2. 2013 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Canoe Ridge Estate Merlot, Horse Heaven Hill
  3. 2015 Canvasback, Cabernet Sauvignon,  Red Mountain
  4. 2016 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Rhone’s Michel Gassier, The Pundit Syrah. Columbia Valley

This is the menu:

  1. Salmon appetizer
  2. Leeks and potatoes soup
  3. Crab ravioli in white sauce
  4. Filet Mignon with vegetables sauteed
  5. Dessert/Coffee

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán, Alberto Gómez, Jaime Jaramillo, Orlando Mason, Italo Mirkow, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Ricardo Santiago, German Zincke

Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from various internet sources) .

2017 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Riesling Dry, Columbia Valley

The Wine: WE: Flower, lime leaf, slate, peach and citrus aromas are out front. Sleek, off-dry, leaning sweeter fruit flavors follow. There’s a sense of balance that heightens the appeal. It’s a whole lot of wine for the money.

“A terrific wine for its price, this Riesling’s best feature is its freshness; it’s a high-toned, leesy white leading with scents of apple blossoms and a hint of lime. The flavors are crisp and round, supple and generous, with the body to pair with seafood…”

A dry, refreshing style of Riesling with beautiful fruit flavors, crisp acidity and an elegant finish. It offers inviting sweet citrus aromas and flavors. This is an incredibly versatile food wine.

The Winery: Founded in 1934, Chateau Ste. Michelle is the oldest winery in Washington with some of the most mature vineyards in the Columbia Valley. The winery combines Old World winemaking with New World innovation and is best known for its award-winning Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Chateau Ste. Michelle receives some of the highest accolades in the industry, including “American Winery of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast for 2004 and “2005 Winery of the Year” by Restaurant Wine. In addition, the winery’s Eroica Riesling, crafted from a partnership with German winemaker Ernst Loosen, has been named to Wine Spectator‘s prestigious “Top 100” wines list for five consecutive years.

Chateau Ste. Michelle is one of the few premium wineries in the world with two state-of-the-art wineries, one devoted to whites and another to reds. This dedicated approach to winemaking allows winemaker Bob Bertheau to build winemaking programs to the unique specifications of red and white wines. While all of Chateau Ste. Michelle’s vineyards are located on the east side of the Cascade Mountains where the climate is dry and sunny, Bob Bertheau makes the award winning white wines in Woodinville, 15 miles northeast of Seattle. The winery’s expansive, 87-acre estate hosts more than 250,000 visitors annually for tours, tastings, dinners and outdoor summer concerts.

Read more at: https://www.ste-michelle.com/

 2013 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Canoe Ridge Estate Merlot, Horse Heaven Hill

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: The Canoe Ridge Estate Merlot is an elegant expression of Washington Merlot. It offers dark cherry fruit character and dusty tannins. This is a perfect match with Italian food and dishes with lamb, beef and fow

(RP) An impressive wine is the 2013 Merlot Canoe Ridge Estate. There’s 5% Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend and it spent 16 months in 59% new French and American oak. Possessing first-rate aromatics of plums, currants, licorice and damp earth, this medium to full-bodied, supple, charming Merlot has outstanding purity and surprising mid-palate density. It’s a sexy wine to drink over the coming 4-5 years.

The Winery:  (See above)

 2015 Canvasback, Cabernet Sauvignon,  Red Mountain

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: Showing the warmth and generosity of the growing season, this wine offers effusive aromas of bing cherry, ripe strawberry and plum. As it evolves, additional aromas of molasses and ginger reveal themselves, along with a savory whiff of sagebrush that echoes Red Mountain’s desert environment. On the palate, the wine has notable presence and depth. The entry is creamy and fine-grained, and a voluminous mid-palate displays gorgeous flavors of black plum, marion berry and grenadine, with notes of nutmeg and hazelnut adding complexity to the juicy fruit. Varietal Content: 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Franc Cooperage: 20 months in barrel 98% French oak, 2% American 42% new, 22% second, 36% neutral.

“While 2015 will go in the books as the earliest Washington grape harvest on record, it will also be remembered for its remarkable quality. A warm spring led to a very early budbreak, followed by ideal weather during bloom. With consistently hot summer weather, we tailored our canopy management to preserve shade on the fruit, while carefully timing our irrigation to protect the vines. A cooldown in the run-up to harvest slowed ripening, and allowed us to pick pristine grapes at a leisurely pace. With lovely balance and freshness, these grapes ultimately yielded wines of power and grace”

RP: The 2015 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is a success this year, revealing aromas of ripe plums, cassis, pencil shavings and espresso roast. On the palate, the wine is medium-bodied, rich and generous, with an ample core of fruit, juicy acids and a flavorful finish.

The Winery: (From Wine.com) To create wines that are as complex as they are captivating, Canvasback is following the model established decades ago by Duckhorn Vineyards, and will ultimately combine grapes from top growers with fruit from Canvasback’s own estate vineyard. The Canvasback team has already established great relationships with the growers who farm some of the appellation’s most esteemed vineyards, including Klipsun, La Coye, Shaw and Quintessence. In 2013, Canvasback put down roots on Red Mountain when it acquired a 20-acre unplanted vineyard site. Located near the top of the mountain, above the frost zone at an elevation of approximately 1,100 to 1,300 feet, the site was widely recognized as the most coveted uncultivated site of the mountain. Guided by Washington winegrowing legend and Canvasback vineyard manager Dick Boushey, and founding winemaker Brian Rudin, Canvasback began planting its Red Mountain vineyard predominantly to Cabernet Sauvignon in 2014.In both the vineyard and winery, Brian embraces the challenge of making a richly compelling wine that shows the complexity and structure of great Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. “Red Mountain is one of the best places on earth to grow Cabernet,” says Brian. “The desert environment, with its long days, cold nights and mineral-rich soils produce epic Cabernet Sauvignons.”

Read more at: https://www.canvasbackwine.com/

 2016 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Rhone’s Michel Gassier, The Pundit Syrah. Columbia Valley

The Wine: The color is deep ruby with garnet highlights. Raspberry jam and citrus with soy and earthy undertone aromas are complemented by a brambly, subtle meaty character. A smooth mouthfeel glides into a long silky finish with flavors of juicy blueberry, hints of tobacco and subtle gamey undertones.

WE: Pinches of Grenache (4%), Mourvèdre (4%) and Viognier (2%) round out this wine, providing lovely accents. The aromas show notes of flower, orange peel, raspberry candy, dried herb and cherry. The palate is full bodied and rich, with the tannins bringing some grip. Raspberry notes linger on the finish.Blend: 90% Syrah, 4% Grenache, 4% Mourvedre, and 2% Viognier.

By the looks of it, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates can help do for Syrah what it has done with Riesling. Here’s another example of Chateau Ste. Michelle head winemaker Bob Bertheau collaborating with European experts to create a gateway example of a variety that the majority of American consumers aren’t overly familiar with, offer it at an affordable price and produce it on a large scale. In the case of The Pundit, Bertheau teams up with Rhône native Michel Gassier and Phillipe Cambie, who describes himself as “a man of the Mediterranean”. The influence of new French oak (23%) over 13 months shows with the bittersweet chocolate and toast aromas that include blueberry cobbler and black cherry. There’s a payday on the palate from each of those notes as the dark fruit spills across with pleasing weight. A nice tug of tannin of comes across as a nibble of blackcurrant skin with the juice to match, followed by the underlying gaminess that often comes with Syrah

The Winery: (See above)

CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 210 Summary of Tasting Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2015 Canvasback, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain

Best Buy: 2017 Chateau Ste Michelle. Riesling Dry, Columbia Valley

Technical Notes 

(Jorge Claro and Cristian Santelices compiled these technical notes. They provide additional detailed information about wine in Washington State, such as history, varieties, climate maps, soils, etc.)

View notes here: Technical notes Washington State

 

 

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Tasting No. 209 – April 29, 2019 – Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina

Club del Vino

 

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Tasting Overview   The  main objective of this blind tasting is to assess a sample of Cabernet Sauvignon wines from different regions in Argentina and if possible find out the region from which they proceed according to the description below. Although two out of three bottles of wine that Argentina exports to the world are Malbec, many winemakers are keen to making known other varietals produced in the country. Among these, Cabernet Sauvignon occupies a fundamental role because it is an old acquaintance of Argentinian viticulture with more than 15,000 hectares planted. Argentina offers at least three styles of Cabernet with a peculiarity, they all come from continental climates, something very rare to find in other parts of the world. These styles are:

a)  Warm climate Cabs: Produced in Mendoza, Maipú and Lujan de Cuyo from vineyards located between 700 and 950 of altitude where there is a warm and dry climate that helps the maturation of the Cabernets and endows them with an intense and voluptuous style with good body and structure;

b) Cold climate Cabs:  These are produced from vines planted in the Uco Valley  at altitudes between 1,000 to 1500 meters and stony soils where the red varieties ripen slower, especially those of long cycle like Cabernet Sauvignon. This combination of altitude and soils results in wines  with a refreshing natural acidity that gives a special character to the wines of the area. At much lower altitude, Patagonia, the South America’s southernmost wine-producing region is a desert, is also considered a cold wine region. Viticulture is possible only near the rivers, where meltwater from the Andes is abundant for irrigation. The classic desert climate of warm days and cold nights extends the growing season in the region, slowing ripening in the grapes and letting them develop rich varietal character while retaining acidity. The zone is closer to the Andes Mountains than to the Atlantic Ocean, but is at a much lower altitude than Mendoza and Uco Valley, averaging about 300m (1,000ft) above sea level.

c) Cabs from the North: These come from the Cafayate, in the heart of the Calchaquíes Valley. Here, at an altitude of 1,750 meters above sea level, Cabernet developed an expression easy to differentiate by its nuanced spices, herbal and menthol aromas. In this region the climate is extreme with a very marked thermal amplitude, that can reach 20 degrees centigrade during the ripening season. So the grapes ripen in the day but at night they concentrate acidity and an explosive aromatic. As with all the wines grown at high altitude in dessert conditions, these are deep and concentrated reds with a singular freshness.

Type of Tasting: Blind

Wines presenters: Ruth Connolly, Jaime Estupiñán

These are the wines:

  1. 2017 Mascota Unanime Chardonnay, Mendoza
  2. 2014 Mascota Big Bat Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza 
  3. 2016 Bodegas Fabre, Phebus Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva, Rio Negro, Patagonia
  4. 2017 Abstracto Quinto Imperio Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Vino, Tupungato, Uco Valley

This is the menu:

  1. Seafood Salad
  2. Mixed greens salad
  3. Agnolotti with Aurora sauce
  4. Grilled Steak with zucchini and roasted beans
  5. Dessert/Coffee

Participants: 

Mario Aguilar, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connolly, Jaime Estupiñán, Jorge Garcia-Garcia,  Jaime Jaramillo, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Ricardo Santiago.

(The information below has been compiled from various internet sources) .

2017 Mascota Unanime Chardonnay, Mendoza

The Wine: (WE) Apple and fresh pumpkin aromas announce a round, healthy palate with bracing acidity. Dried tropical fruit flavors of mango, papaya and pineapple are clean and solid. Everything about this partially malolactic Chardonnay is pleasing and of good quality. Drink now.

The Winery: The vineyards lie at the foot of the Andes Mountains, barely a thousand meters away from the Mendoza River. The vines receive fresh breezes descending from the mountains and blowing along the river, all of which contributes to the generation of wide temperature ranges. The soil is predominantly alluvial, with a clay-loam surface, and rock is found at a depth of 60 cm (23.4 in). And so it is that Finca La Mascota finds itself set in perfect surroundings, and one the most renowned and prestigious wine-growing regions in Mendoza. The vineyards cover 100 hectares of land, 97 of which are implanted with grapes. The main varieties produced are Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Shiraz among the reds; and Chardonnay among the whites. The oldest wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon lot which was planted 41 years ago. The average age of the vineyards is 30 years, ranging from the 5 year-old new blocks to the oldest ones planted in the 70’s.

Read more at: http://www.mascotavineyards.com/en/home/#

2014 Mascota Big Bat Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza

The Wine: Toasty blackberry and prune are the key aromas on this plush Cabernet. A generous mouthfeel includes choppy tannins that will mellow in due time. Dark flavors of cassis and blackberry include spice and chocolate notes, while this finishes with ripe flavors of blackberry touched up by chocolaty oak. Drink this calm, slightly flabby Cab through 2021.

The Winery:  (See above)

2016 Bodegas Fabre, Phebus, Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva, Rio Negro, Patagonia

The Wine: A compelling mix of cherry, plum and spicy aromas spell out Cabernet Sauvignon in block letters. This feels full, but also juicy, fresh and agile. Core berry flavors are lightly toasted and chocolaty, with coffee and lingering spice notes aiding a well-comported finish.

The Winery: Hervé Joyaux Fabre, owner and director of Fabre Montmayou, was born in Bordeaux, France, to a family of wine négociants. When he arrived in Argentina in the early 90’s looking for opportunities to invest in vineyards and start a winery, he was impressed by the potential for Malbec in Mendoza. He bought very old Malbec vineyards, planted in 1908, and built the Fabre Montmayou winery in the purest Chateau Style from Bordeaux.  As a true visionary, he bought very old Malbec vineyards, planted in 1908, and built the Fabre Montmayou winery with real boutique style and essence. Once the winery in Mendoza was established Hervé then decided to buy vineyards and a winery in Rio Negro, Patagonia. He realised the unique cool climate of this southern region combined with the “terroir” made it possible to create great wines that are very different in style from those produced in Mendoza. His passion and “savoir faire” did the rest, enabling him to begin producing exceptional wines that have achieved international acclaim and are enjoyed in over twenty countries. With constant care and personal style – essential elements for great quality – Fabre Montmayou combines modern winemaking, and the Bordeaux “savoir faire” to produce wines of unique personality, farmed using traditional methods and without herbicides in order to obtain the best grapes while respecting the environment.

Read more at: http://www.fabremontmayou.com/vineyards/patagonia/

2017 Abstracto Quinto Imperio Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Vino, Tupungato, Uco Valley

The Wine: James Suckling: “Very attractive, fresh red-plum and mulberry aromas with a gently spicy and peppery edge. A fresh palate that has a succulent, fleshy and gently grippy feel. Assertive and flavorful finish. Drink or hold.”

The Winery: This wine is produced and bottled by Finca Sophenia.Finca SOPHENIA is an argentine winery recognized as one of the top quality wine producers from Argentina. To achieve its goals, Roberto Luka, its founder and conductor, chose Gualtallary, Tupungato, Mendoza, one of the most prestigious regions to produce high quality wines. The result was quite rewarding and the wines have already been praised by the wine writers in Europe, America and Asia.  The wines started to sell worldwide in 2004 and succeeded to reach more than 25 countries.

Finca SOPHENIA’ s vineyards were planted over 130 hectares of the best virgin soil of this part of the world. This is a sandy and rocky soil with excellent natural drainage. The vineyards were implanted with selected French clones, which were grafted onto an American rootstocks, and of the following varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. An area of the vineyard has been reserved for the Malbec plants raised in Mendoza: low-productivity clones that were chosen for their aromatic properties, and whose stalks come from the most representative vineyards of this unique region, where the Malbec finds its clearest expression. The irrigation water comes from the Andes’ thaw. The system that distributes it was structured to obtain small berries and a low production per hectare. In this way, the results are wines of great complexity, high fruit concentration and capable to age well.

Read more at: http://www.sophenia.com.ar/eng/index.php

CV Members Rating (TBA)

View full evaluation here: 209 Summary of Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2014 Mascota Big Bat Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza

Best Buy: 2016 Phebus Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva, Patagonia

Technical Notes 

(Material abstracted and adapted from information posted on the Wine Searcher website:   http://www.winesearcher.com and information from the Wines of Argentina website:  http://www.winesofargentina.com)

Cabernet Sauvignon is probably the most famous red wine grape variety on Earth. It is rivaled only by its Bordeaux stablemate Merlot, and its opposite number in Burgundy, Pinot Noir.   Cabernet Sauvignon wines always seem to demonstrate a handful of common character traits: deep color, good tannin structure, moderate acidity and aromas of blackcurrant, tomato leaf, dark spices and cedar wood.  They also are frequently used in blends in combination with merlot, cabernet franc, malbec, petit verdot, carmenere, shiraz, and lately tempranillo.

Cabernet Sauvignon is the product of a natural genetic crossing over the past few centuries between the Bordeaux grape varieties Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, a fact which makes the variety’s global fame and dominance more impressive.

Key reasons for Cabernet Sauvignon’s rise to dominance are:

a) its adaptability to different soil types and climates. It is grown at latitudes from 50°N (Okanagan in Canada) and 20°S (northern Argentina), and in soils as different as the Pessac-Leognan gravels and the iron-rich terra rossa of Coonawarra.

b) its retention of an inimitable “Cab” character and simple economics. The familiarity and marketability of the Cabernet Sauvignon name has an irresistible lure to wine companies looking for a reliable return on their investment.

c) its vigor. Cabernet Sauvignon produces a dense leaf canopy and relatively high grape yields, giving wine producers a fairly open choice between quantity and quality. Careful vineyard management is essential. Late-flowering and late-ripening, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes mature slowly, both of which can affect wine quality, depending on weather and harvest time.

Source: By Lewison – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8746519

Argentinian Cabernet Wine and Wine Areas Covering just over one million square miles (2.800.000 square kilometers), Argentina is one of the most important wine-producing countries in the New World, and the largest wine producer in South America. The high-altitude deserts of the eastern Andes have given rise to a high-quality wine industry.  While Malbec is the major grape, there are also pockets of production of cabernet sauvignon wines, principally in Mendoza (Andean foothills), Salta (Cafayete in the Calchaqui Valley and Molinos), Jujuy, Catamarca, and Patagonia (Rio Negro and Neuquen).

Mendoza and Environs. Most viticulture in Argentina takes place in the foothills of the Andes, and most famously in Mendoza, where desert landscapes and high altitudes combine to make a terroir that gives rise to aromatic, intensely flavored red wines. Vineyards in Mendoza reach as high as 5000ft (1500m) above sea level. Here, increased levels of solar radiation and a high diurnal temperature variation make for a long, slow ripening period, leading to balanced sugars and acidity in the grapes.

Nearly three-quarters of Argentinian wine production takes place in Mendoza, and in addition to Malbec, there are significant plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Bonarda. Mendoza’s position in the rain shadow of the Andes means that there is little rainfall, and irrigation is supplied by Andean meltwater.

Further north, the regions of Salta and Catamarca are even higher, and a world-topping vineyard owned by Bodega Colome in Molinos sits at 9,900ft (3000m), which is higher than the peak of Mount St. Helens in the Pacific Northwest of America. The area’s low latitudes – i.e. closeness to the equator – are tempered by the high altitude and cold mountain air.  Argentina’s signature white grape, Torrontes, is grown here, making an aromatic, floral white wine.

Closer to the Atlantic coast, Patagonia in the south is home to two wine regions, Rio Negro and Neuquen, where cabernet sauvignons are produced.

Argentina has a long viticultural tradition, dating from the 1500’s.   Until very recently, Argentinian wines were exclusively domestic; over the last two decades, producers have raised quality levels and successfully consolidated an international export market. Argentina has risen to become the fifth-most-prominent wine-producing country in the world, following France, Italy, Spain and the USA.

Salta, in the far north of Argentina, is home to some of the world’s most extreme vineyard sites.  Located at lower latitudes and higher altitudes than anywhere else on Earth, these sites benefit from the balance these two factors contribute to wine-growing. The cold temperatures of high altitude are mitigated by the high temperatures of the lower latitudes.

Cafayate is a wine-producing region in the northwest of Argentina. Located within the Calchaqui Valley, Cafayate is arguably the best-known wine region in Argentina outside of Mendoza.  The small town of Cafayate is near the southern border of the Salta province.  The Calchaqui Valley, a catch-all name for a series of valleys on the edge of the Andes mountains, surrounds Cafayate and has some of the most spectacular landscapes in Argentina, changing rapidly and dramatically from desert to mountains to sub-tropical forest.

One of the highest places in the world suitable for viticulture, Cafayate sits at 5600ft (1700m) above sea level, at a latitude of 26°S (which it shares with the Kalahari desert in Africa). This high altitude defines the terroir of the region, making it suitable for viticulture despite its close proximity to the equator. The altitude means the sunlight Cafayate receives is more intense than in lower-lying regions, causing the grapes to develop thicker skins as protection against the solar radiation.

The altitude also explains the cold nights, fueled by westerly evening winds from the snow-capped Andes. Temperatures can be around 60F/15C colder than during the day, and it is this diurnal temperature variation that extends the growing season and leads to balance in the finished wines.  Soil types in Cafayate are varied, consisting mostly of free-draining sandy loam, with some more-pebbly pockets. These dry soils cause stress in the vines, leading them to produce less vegetation and fewer grapes, reducing the overall yield and contributing to the high levels of concentration in the resultant wines. Cafayate has a desert climate with low rainfall and humidity, and the vines need irrigation from the meltwater rivers in the area to keep them hydrated over the summer.

The terroir in Cafayate is particularly well suited to the Torrontes Riojana variety, which produces floral, crisp white wines with a surprising depth of flavor. Full-bodied, richly structured wines made from Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon are also produced in Cafayate.

Salta’s mountainous landscape creates a rain shadow over the vineyards below, ensuring clear skies and low levels of precipitation. The convenient flipside is that the mountains also provide irrigation, sending a reliable supply of meltwater down from the snowy peaks. This mesoclimate benefits from a wide diurnal temperature variation, which allows the grapes to develop phenolic ripeness while retaining good acidity. Summer temperatures in Salta reach 100F (38C) in the day time, while dropping to as low as 55F (12C) at night.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot and Tannat are the most prominent red-wine varieties in Salta, while Chardonnay and Torrontes account for the region’s most respected white wines. The region has a similar alluvial soil profile (sandy topsoil over a clay base) to Mendoza, 500 miles (800km) to the south, which explains why these varieties do so well in both regions.

Salta’s key wine-growing areas are Cafayate and the world-topping vineyards of Molinos. Cafayate in particular is quickly gaining an international reputation for tits high quality wines as well as for the quirks of its terroir.

Catamarca & Jujuy. Catamarca  is a wine-producing region in the north-west of Argentina in the midst of the Andes mountain range. This remote corner of Argentina  has only recently become associated with wines of export quality.  Viticulture in Catamarca is largely concentrated on the banks of the Abaucan River, from the high-quality region of Fiambala to the more-productive region of Tinogasta in the south of the province.

Jujuy  is the northernmost viticultural area of Argentina with some of the world’s highest vineyards.   It is a relatively small wine region and is less commercially established than some of its neighbors.  Despite its proximity to the equator (at a latitude of 23°S), Jujuy’s extreme temperatures are moderated by the high altitude of the region which also raises the intensity and duration of sunlight available to its vineyards. Vineyards in both Catamarca  and Jujuy are located amid mountainous terrain – some reaching altitudes of 9840ft (3000m) above sea level.

La Pampa is a gently undulating plain with elongated depressions running from west to east and forming fan-shaped valleys. On average, these depressions are 62 miles long by 3 to 6 miles wide, with altitudes ranging between 328 feet above sea level to 131  feet below sea level. It has approximately 531 acres of vineyards. The main varieties produced in this province are Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

Neuquén contrasts sharply with the aridity of the mountainous northern region.  San Patricio del Chañar, 37 miles to the northwest of the province’s capital, has  seen more than 3,460 acres planted and five wineries built in the last few years. The climate is ideal for the development of wine growing. Vineyards stand at 1,300 feet above sea level. The region receives 7 inches rainfall and has temperature ranges exceeding 68° F difference between day and night during the ripening period.All these features come together to ensure extremely healthy grapes with great concentration of colors and aromas, slowly developing tannins and perfect levels of acidity, which will then yield high quality wines.  However, cabernet sauvignon production is not mentioned in the sources visited.

Río Negro  is the southernmost vine-growing region in Argentina. At an altitude of 1,200 feet, the High Valley of Río Negro is a 75 mile-long, 5 mile-wide  river oasis in the vast, arid, wild Patagonian plateau.  It has a markedly dry, continental climate, with an annual rainfall of less than 7.5 inches and very low relative humidity. Winters are cold and summers warm and dry, with abundant sunshine and great thermal amplitude. Winds blowing constantly from the southern Andes increase air dryness and allow for outstanding sanity in the vineyard. The uniqueness of the landscape confers Patagonian wines a well-defined personality. All of them stand out for the perfect balance of alcohol and acidity resulting from the slow ripening of the fruit.   However, cabernet sauvignon production was not mentioned in the sources consulted.

 

HIGH ALTITUDE WINES

(Taken from an article from Wine Searcher by Wink Lorch)

While much of the touted virtues of high-altitude wines can be dismissed as spin, but there is some basis in fact. Three main things make high altitude wine a big deal.

Mountain freshness. The higher you go, the more the average temperature drops, and this means potentially lower alcohol and higher acidity, both increasingly sought after for lighter, fresher wines, such as those from Alpine areas. The diurnal changes in temperature (difference between day and night levels) are greater, preserving the acidity. The freshness can also be increased by wind chill in a vineyard on a mountain slope (not essential for high altitude, but often the case). And, mountain slopes often have rocky soils bringing out those sought-after notes of minerality.

Mountain intensity. At very high altitudes, such as in Argentina’s high Andean vineyards, the vines are subject to intense sunlight, especially UV-B radiation. This gives grapes more antioxidants and thicker skins, equating to more color, tannin and flavor intensity in reds, and longer aging ability too – all desirable attributes.

Mountain savior? Climate change has not only created unpredictability, but it has also meant that the world’s traditional grapegrowing areas are warming giving higher sugar and lower acidity levels in the grapes leading to unbalanced, over-alcoholic wines. Moving the vineyards higher up leads to longer growing seasons and higher acidities in the grapes, one practicable response to climate change.

What’s high? An altitude measure for a vineyard is almost meaningless unless the latitude is discussed in the same breath. High altitude in vineyards in Europe go from around 500 meters (1640 feet) upwards. In South America, there are thousands of acres of vineyards at 1000m and higher, and the continent includes the world’s highest commercial vineyards, owned by Colomé, at more than 3000m (9850 feet).

And how does latitude come into it? The closer you are to the equator, generally the hotter it is, hence both the permanent snow line and the tree line are higher. At the typical latitude of fine European vineyards – 45 degrees north – there’s year-round snow above 2800m, and very few vineyards reach 1000m (3300 feet). Over in Limarí or Elquí in Chile, or Salta in Argentina, South America’s northernmost internationally known vineyard regions are much closer to the equator at 25-30 degrees south. Here, the permanent snow line moves to well above 4500m and the high-altitude vineyards only begin at 1500m.

Are there downsides for vineyards at high altitude? You bet there are – hence, in traditional Alpine wine regions, vineyard altitudes have actually come down over the past 100 years. Apart from the sheer impracticality of farming on a mountainside, there is a greater risk of frost damage, more exposure to certain vine diseases and mostly the problem of not getting grapes fully ripe due to wind chill. High-altitude viticulture is not for the fainthearted.

What’s special about the taste of high-altitude wines? The freshness is the overall hallmark for reds and whites, together with a delicacy of floral and fruit characters. Yet there will also be intensity of flavor, and potentially deep colors and big tannins for certain reds. All this and their stories of so-called “heroic viticulture” make these wines a big deal.

 

 

 

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Tasting No. 208 – March 25, 2019 – Wines from Israel

Club del Vino

 

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Galilee Vineyard

Tasting Overview

With a rich history of wine production dating back to biblical times, Israel is a part of the cradle of wine civilization. Here, wine was commonly used for religious ceremonies as well as for general consumption. During Roman times, it was a popular export, but during Islamic rule around 1300, production was virtually extinguished. The modern era of Israeli wine-making began in the late 19th century with help from Bordeaux’s Rothschild family. Accordingly, most grapes grown in Israel today are made from native French varieties. Indigenous varieties are all but extinct, though oenologists have made recent attempts to rediscover ancient varieties such as Marawi for commercial wine production. In Israel’s Mediterranean climate, humidity and drought can be problematic, concentrating much of the country’s grape growing in the north near Galilee, Samaria near the coast and at higher elevations in the east. The most successful red varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah, while the best whites are made from Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The  main objective of this tasting is to explore and asses a sample of wines from Israel.

Type of Tasting: Open

Wines presenter: Pedro Turina

These are the wines:

  1. 2016 Barkan Classic Chardonnay, Judean Hills
  2. 2013 Yatir  Mt. Amassa, Blend,  Judean Hills 
  3. 2013 Tabor, Adama Cabernet Sauvignon, Terra Rosa, Galilee
  4. 2016 Tabor, Mt. Tabor  Shiraz , Galilee

This is the menu:

  1. Vegetables lasagna
  2. Spinach salad with strawberries, red onions and cherry tomatoes
  3. Gnocchi with light pesto sauce
  4. Lamb with rosemary sauce and green beans, zucchini and broccoli.
  5. Dessert/Coffee

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán, Jorge Gracia-Gracia, Alberto Gómez, Orlando Mason, Agilson Perazza, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sánchez, Jairo Sánchez, Ginger Smart, Pedro Turina, Ricardo Zavaleta, German Zinke

Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from various internet sources) .

2016 Barkan Classic Chardonnay, Judean Hills

The Wine: The wine is produced from 100% Chardonnay grapes, picked from the vineyards of the Barkan Winery in the Upper Galilee region and the Jerusalem Mountains. The wine has an abundance of fragrances and tastes of citrus fruit and white peaches with a smooth and round finish.

The Winery: (From Wine.com) Barkan was founded in 1899, to produce sweet Kiddush wine and brandy for the Jewish settlement in Israel. In 1990 the winery set forth on a program of modernization and planting of vineyards and selected Kibbutz Hulda to be a good site for the new center. The proximity to one of Barkan’s main vineyards – Hulda – was the most important consideration, and its central location, close to major roads and removed from urban areas, was also important. Barkan receives grapes from vineyards from all the best regions in Israel. The winery’s location allows the grapes to be quickly transported to the winery, to insure freshness and to maximize quality. In addition, the strategic location was optimal for distribution of the bottled wine to market.

 2013 Yatir  Mt. Amassa, Blend, Judean Hills

The Wine: WE: With aromas of cherry, cranberry and chocolate, this wine offers similar notes on the palate, along with a hint of eucalyptus. Its strong and slightly grippy tannins are kept in check by vibrant acidity that triumphs on the mint and orange finish.

Yatir Mt. Amasa 2013 is composed of 48% Syrah, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Malbec, 10% Petit Verdot from a number of plots in the Yatir Forest vineyards at altitudes between 650 and 900 meters above sea level. The composition of species of the wine differs from year to year, depending on the nature of the harvest, in order to emphasize the “Yatir” character and uniqueness of the region and its vineyards. The wines from the various vineyards are matured separately in oak barrels for one year prior to creating the final blend. The wine was bottled in March 2013 and left at the winery for another year and a half to age in the bottle. It is suited to continued maturing for another five years or more

The Winery:  The fundamental wine of the Yatir Winery, which has been listed in some of Israel’s finest restaurants, presents stability and consistency of the highest quality, year after year. The wilderness, the mountain and the vegetation on the reservation, along with Mount Amasa (at an altitude of 859 meters+) border the Yatir Forest and its vineyards and serve as a unique meeting place between the mountain and the desert, the snow and the sun, the rocks and earth – all which embody the nature of the Yatir wines. This is how the new name of the wine was conceived. Up to the 2010 vintage, it was called “Yatir Merlot / Shiraz / Cabernet.” The wine is based on Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz varieties. As with similar climatic regions in the world (the South of France, Australia), the combination of these varieties is synergetic and it intensifies the wine with a refreshing, peppery body of the Cabernet and a fruity softness and smoky zing of the Shiraz. The Winery uses varying percentages of Merlot / Malbec / Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc in its blends. The assortment of varieties contributes to the accentuation of the regional character of the wine over the nature of each individual variety. The wine is aged for approximately one year in small barrels (225 liters) and in large wooden containers (5,000 liters), with the goal of obtaining fresh fruit and mineral-oriented wine, with no emphasized wood flavors. The Yatir-like nature of the wine is manifested in the firm structure of the wine and its aroma of Mediterranean seasoning herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme) which blend beautifully with the fruit flavors. The wine is bottled and marketed after two additional years of further aging in the bottle.

 2013 Tabor Adama Cabernet Sauvignon, Terra Rosa, Galilee

The Wine: This Cabernet Sauvignon plot grew in the Upper Galilee’s Kedesh Valley. This unique area is characterized with stony Terra Rossa soil causing the vine roots to search for stored water deep into the layers of rock contributing to a strong and balanced wine.

The Winery: Tabor is known as one of Israel’s largest wineries that feature many premium wines in their portfolio (it is the 5th largest but should be noted that there’s a big difference in volume between Tabor and the 4th largest winery).  The winery was started in 1999 by four growers in the Tabor Village (Kfar Tabor), in the Lower Galilee,. Over the years, they have been able to grow from producing 30,000 bottles a year to close to two million. Tabor Winery does not own any of their vineyards, which is common in Israel, yet they have long relationships and contracts with their growers that are typically between 17 to 18 years with stipulations added from both sides to protect the interests of each party. Tabor is known for their impressive Cabernet Sauvignon wines, and it is no surprise noting that they work with 30 different individual Cabernet Sauvignon plots from an array of vineyards across Israel.

 2016 Tabor, Mt. Tabor  Shiraz , Galilee

The Wine: This wine’s bramble fruit and violet aromas set the scene for raspberry, lavender and tobacco flavors. It’s smooth on the palate, with a nice balance of fruit and savory characteristics and a zesty finish marked by a touch of salinity.

In the select vineyards of Tabor Winery in the Galilee, high-quality Shiraz grapes were grown and carefully harvested. From these grapes we created the wine while paying close attention to preserving the natural aroma and original flavors of the grape variety. The wine consists of 90% Shiraz grapes and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. By maintaining the freshness and vitality of the grape, this variety’s classic aromas and flavors of ripe fruits and violets combined with light earthy notes are present. The wine is soft-bodied with round velvety tannins and is light and pleasant to drink. The wine was especially created for moments of joy, closeness and good friendship. It is fresh and fruity and carries the spirit of Mount Tabor. Tastes great with leaner red meat, stew, and mildly spicy ethnic foods.

The Winery: (See above)

CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 208 Summary of Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2013 Yatir Mt. Amasa, Blend Judean Hills, Galilee -$40

Best Buy: 2013 Tabor, Adama Cabernet Sauvignon, Terrra Rosa, Galilee – $20

Technical Note

Compiled by Pedro Turina

 

The Middle East & Eastern Mediterranean was the cradle of the world’s wine culture, and Canaan must have been one of the earliest countries to enjoy wine, over 2,000 years before the vine reached Europe.  The oldest grape pips found in the regions of modern Turkey, Syria and Lebanon date back to the Stone Age period (c. 8000 B.C.E.).

 

Noah Plants Vineyard

The art of winemaking is thought to have begun in the area between the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea and the Sea of Galilee.  Indeed, the oldest pips of ‘cultivated’ vines, dating to c. 6000 B.C.E., were found in Georgia.  The biblical Noah was the first recorded viticulturist who, after the flood, “became a husbandman and planted a vineyard.”  As The Book of Genesis relates, he was also the first person to suffer from drinking too much!

The vine then traveled south, through Phoenicia and Canaan to Egypt, the world’s first great wine culture.  It is known that the Egyptians particularly prized the wine of Canaan.

 

Moses’ Cluster of Grapes

In the Book of Numbers, the story is told of how Moses sent spies to check out the Promised Land. They returned with a cluster so large, that it had to be suspended from a pole and carried by two men. Today both Carmel Winery and the Israel Government Tourist Office use this image as their logo. The grapes were chosen to symbolize how the land flowed with milk and honey. The vine was one of the blessings of the Promised Land promised to the children of Israel.

In recent years excavations have uncovered ancient presses and storage vessels that indicate a well-developed and successful wine industry existed in the area. Grapes, grape clusters and vines were frequent motifs on coins and jars found from ancient times.  Coins have been found commemorating the victories of the Hasmoneans and Bar Kochba with grapes featured as a symbol of the fertility of the country.  Many wine presses and storage cisterns have been found from Mount Hermon to the Negev.

Inscriptions and seals of wine jars illustrate that wine was a commercial commodity being shipped in goatskin or pottery from ports such as Dor, Ashkelon and Joppa (Jaffa). The vineyards of Galilee and Judea were mentioned. Wines with names like Sharon, Carmel and from places like Gaza, Ashkelon and Lod were famous. The earliest storage vessels originated in southern Canaan and were known as Canaanite Jars. Today they are better known by their Greek name, ‘Amphora.’

 

King David’s Cellar

The Kings of Judah were said to have owned vast vineyards and stores for wine. King David’s wine holdings were so substantial that his court included two special officials to manage them. One oversaw the vineyards and the other the cellars. This may have been Israel’s first sommelier! At this time the Jewish devotion to wine was clearly shown in their developing literature, lifestyle and religious ritual. Indeed, anyone planting a new vineyard was exempt from military service, even in national emergency.

In about 1800 B.C.E. there was a communication which reported that Palestine was “blessed with figs and with vineyards producing wine in greater quantity than water.”The Book of Isaiah gives very clear instructions of how to plant care for a vineyard, even to the point of suggesting the wine press is close to the vineyard. Micha’s vision of peace on earth and harmony among men was illustrated with, “and every man will sit under his vine and under his fig tree and none shall make him afraid.”The wine produced was not just for drinking but also important for medical purposes, for cleaning out homes and dyeing cloth. It was also used as a currency for paying tribute.

Winemaking in Ancient Israel and was at its peak during the period of the Second Temple. It was a major export and the economic mainstay of the era. However, when the Romans destroyed the Temple, Jews were dispersed and the once proud industry forsaken. The Arab conquest from 600 C.E. and Mohammed’s prohibition of alcohol caused many remaining vineyards to be uprooted,

The Crusades

The Crusaders briefly revived the cultivation of grapes in the Holy Land and grapes were planted in places like Bethlehem and Nazareth.  The revival was short lived, but the Crusaders did return to Europe with many noble grape varieties which had their origins in the Middle East. Varieties such as Chardonnay, Muscat and Shiraz are said to come from the region.

On the founding of the Ottoman Empire, the Middle Eastern wine industry was finally obliterated because of the decline in wealth of the whole region and the wars and epidemics which greatly reduced and weakened the populations.  Communities which had supported the wine industry finally departed. Prices of wine rose, consumption fell. Hashish, and later coffee, replaced wine as affordable intoxicants.

 

Cheers – or as we say here, Le Chaim – To Life !!

 Israel Preker, BSc

Tel. +972-54-5595747
EMail
israel@winesisrael.com

https://winesisrael.com/en/welcome/

 

Psalm 104:15   wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts.

 

 

Ecclesiatstes 9:7    Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.

 

VINEYARDS

Israel is usually regarded as being part of the Middle East. It may be more accurately considered as being situated in the Eastern Mediterranean, a region also referred to as the Near East or ‘The Levant.’

CLIMATE:   Mainly Mediterranean. Long, hot dry summers; short wet winters; snow on higher ground. Semi-arid & desert conditions, in the Negev.

SOILS:    Volcanic in north; sandy red soils on coast & chalk & limestone on the hills.

HECTARES:   5,500 hectares (13,585 acres; 55,000 dunams).

HARVEST (METRIC TONS):  55,000

VINTAGE:     August to end of October – (often begins late July & occasionally ends early November); Machine & hand harvested.

BEST VINTAGES: 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016.

 

GRAPE VARIETIES

Israel’s traditional volume varieties, Carignan & Colombard, apart from some quality old vine Carignans, are usually only used in inexpensive blends. They are gradually being replaced by international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc. Shiraz is proving both popular & suitable for Israel’s climate. Bordeaux varieties have been most successful to date, yet Mediterranean varieties may be more suitable in the longer term. There is research & experimentation with local varieties.

VARIETIES – METRIC TONS %:

Cabernet Sauvignon 19%; Carignan 13%; Merlot 12%; Shiraz/ Syrah 7%; Petit Verdot 6%; Argaman 5%; Colombard 4%; Muscat of Alexandria 4%;  Chardonnay 3%; Petite Sirah 3%; Sauvignon Blanc  2%; Emerald Riesling 2%; Cabernet Franc 2%; Malbec 2%; Tempranillo 1%; Gewurztraminer1%, Viognier 1%.

LESS THAN 1%: Pinotage; Muscat Canelli; White Riesling; Pinot Noir; Semillon: Sangiovese; Tempranillo;  Barbera; Muscat Hamburg; Chenin Blanc; Zinfandel; Grenache; Nebbiolo.

LOCAL INTEREST:  Argaman, Baladi, Dabouki, Marawi / Hamdani, Jandali.

Wine Regions of Israel

  • Galil Galilee       41% Upper Galilee

Lower Galilee

Golan Heights

  • Shomron Samaria     27%  Carmel

Sharon

Shomron Hills

 

  • Shimshon Samson     17%  Central Coastal

Judean Lowlands

Judean Foothills

 

  • Harey Yehuda Judean Hills  10%        Jerusalem

Gush Etzion

Yatir Forest

 

Hanegev                      Negev             5%        Central Negev

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tasting No. 207 – February 25, 2019 – Cabernet Sauvignon USA

Club del Vino

 

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

source: commons.wikimedia.org

Tasting Overview  

The  main objective of this tasting is to assess and compare three wines from the Columbia River Valley (Washington State). Two of them are labeled Cabernet Sauvignon wines and one is a Bordeaux left bank type of blend .  An important aspect of the tasting is to find out the effect of blending.

Type of Tasting: Blind

Wines presenters: Clara Estrada, Jorge García-García

These are the wines:

    1. 2014 Anam Cara Cellars, Riesling Nicholas State, Chehalem Mountains, Oregon
    2. 2015 Mullan Road Cellars, Red Wine Blend, Columbia Valley
    3. 2015 Canvasback, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, Yakima Valley
    4. 2009 Januik, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley

This is the menu:

      1. Lobster bisque
      2. Risotto with mushrooms
      3. Gnocchi au grtain
      4. Short rib braised with mushrooms and green beans
      5. Dessert/Coffee

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Clara Estrada, Ruth Connolly, Jaiem Estupiñan, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Alberto Gómez, Jaime Jaramillo, Orlando Mason, John Redwood, Lucia Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Ricardo Santiago, Ricardo Zavaleta, German Zincke

Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from various internet sources) .

2014 Anam Cara Cellars, Riesling Nicholas State, Chehalem Mountains, Oregon

The Wine: Dry as labeled, redolent with the inviting crispness of mountain air, this brings a lovely mix of green apple, pear, melon and cucumber flavors. Bright citrus highlights the zippy acids, leading to a lip-smacking, tart but oh-so-satisfying finish.

The Winery: Nick and Sheila Nicholas have made each Anam Cara Cellars  wine from the grapes they first planted on this site in 2001. Over time, they have adapted their organic farming practices to reflect the rhythm of the vines and fine-tuned their wine making to reflect this unique part of the Willamette Valley.

Before the property was planted, it was an overgrown walnut, filbert (hazelnut) and plum orchard. Several of the old fruit trees from the original farmstead remain, and produce apples, cherries, quince and pears. The vineyard is planted on a southeast-facing slope of the Willamette Valley’s Chehalem Mountains AVA in the hills above Newberg, Oregon, at an elevation that varies from 350ft-650ft and the vineyard rows are planted in a north-south direction, benefiting from cool, drying winds through the 99W corridor which keep mildew and frost pressure at bay.  The soils are primarily Loess (wind-blown ice age sediment) with bedrock and outcrops of volcanic Jory soils and deposits from the Missoula floods. Of the original 27 vineyard acres, five 5-acre blocks are Pinot Noirs as well as an additional acre each of Riesling and Gewurztraminer. In 2008, the family planted a further six acres according to the biodynamic calendar which saw their first harvest in 2011. The new vineyard is planted in 2-acre blocks to Riesling, Chardonnay and Wadenswil Pinot Noir. In 2014, the Nicholas’ downsized their ownership to six acres, still purchasing fruit from the original plantings to make their wine.

Anam Cara wines are both L.I.V.E. (Low Input Viticulture and Enology) and Salmon Safe.

Read more at: https://www.anamcaracellars.com/

2015 Mullan Road Cellars, Red Wine Blend, Columbia Valley

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: Vibrant notes of blackberry, black currant, plum skin and dark baking spices. Concentrated and polished, with a touch ofdried herbs, tea leaves and a dried berry potpourri. The fruits are ripe though poised with fresh squeezed berries, licorice,toast and raspberry intermingling with an intriguing hint of smoke and resin. The palate is polished and beautifully textured, with finely integrated tannins. An elegant and age worthy blend. Pairs well with any red meat on the grill, pork tenderloin, heavy cheeses and grilled vegetables. Blend: 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, and 12% Cabernet Franc

A first-release from this winery founded by Napa Valley’s Dennis Cakebread, this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc from Seven Hills Vineyard shows notes of tomato leaf, chocolate, cherry and vanilla. The oak (44% new French and American) initially takes the lead. Fruit flavors are focused and soft, with the oak giving the tannins a slightly astringent feel.

(RP) Coming more from the Seven Hills vineyard, the 2012 Columbia Valley Red Wine has an old-school, classic Cabernet feel in its lead pencil, tobacco, dusty pebble and assorted dark fruits. Full-bodied, elegant and layered, with both texture and structure, this beauty will hit maturity around age 4-5, and drink nicely through 2027.

The Winery:  (From Wine.com) A large and geographically diverse AVA capable of producing a wide variety of wine styles, the Columbia Valley AVA is home to 99% of Washington state’s total vineyard area. A small section of the AVA even extends into northern Oregon! Because of its size, it is necessarily divided into several distinctive sub-AVAs, including Walla Walla Valley and Yakima Valley—which are both further split into smaller, noteworthy appellations. A region this size will of course have varied microclimates, but on the whole it experiences extreme winters and long, hot, dry summers. Frost is a common risk during winter and spring. The towering Cascade mountain range creates a rain shadow, keeping the valley relatively rain-free throughout the entire year, necessitating irrigation from the Columbia River. The lack of humidity combined with sandy soils allows for vines to be grown on their own rootstock, as phylloxera is not a serious concern.

Red wines make up the majority of production in the Columbia Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant variety here, where it produces wines with a pleasant balance of dark fruit and herbs. Wines made from Merlot are typically supple, with sweet red fruit and sometimes a hint of chocolate or mint. Syrah tends to be savory and Old-World-leaning, with a wide range of possible fruit flavors and plenty of spice. The most planted white varieties are Chardonnay and Riesling. These range in style from citrus and green apple dominant in cooler sites, to riper, fleshier wines with stone fruit flavors coming from the warmer vineyards.

Mullan Cellar fruit comes from three vineyards, namely a) Seven Hills Vineyars. With an elevation of 850 to 1,050 feet, the site has excellent soil and air drainage and is one of the most technologically advanced in the industry. The vertically trained canopy, controlled cluster spacing and sunlight exposure generates uniform fruit ripeness. Soil moisture is monitored daily by computer with sophisticated drip irrigation scheduled to augment vine development yet limit excessive canopy growth. Yields are strictly controlled to assure ultra-premium quality, b) Lawrence Vineyard. Our Corfu Crossing site is located on the Frenchman Hills overlooking the Saddle Mountains with elevation ranging from 1,365 to 1,675 feet, and the entire vineyard on the southern slope. Corfu Crossing features a silt loam soil at a depth of 18 to 42 inches on top of fractured basalt. Our soil has very good drainage, which provides us with optimum control over the water intake of the vines. Rows are established north to south, with the vine spacing at 8 feet by 4 feet. We source our water from a well, and our irrigation system features drip at four feet intervals; and c) Stillwater Creek Vineyard. Stillwater Creek Vineyard is a 235 acre site on the Royal Slope of the Frenchman Hills. Planted in 2000 on a steep, south-facing slope with one of the most diverse clone selections in Washington State, Stillwater Creek quickly has earned a reputation as one of the Columbia Valley’s top vineyards. The site’s fractured rock and extreme southern exposure are ideal for reds, especially Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Temperatures during the growing season favor warm days and cool nights. Grapes ripen beautifully under these conditions, enhanced by both hours of light per day during the summer and the total number of sunlight days from bud-break through harvest.

Read more at: https://mullanroadcellars.com/

 2015 Canvasback, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, Yakima Valley

The Wine: Winemaker Notes:A gorgeous expression of Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine begins with effusive aromas of blackberry, marionberry and black cherry. As it evolves, layers of mocha, cinnamon and clove reveal themselves, as well as hints of sarsaparilla and black licorice, all of which frame the fruit, while adding depth and nuance. The palate is supple and juicy, with a voluminous texture, hedonistic black fruit and a complex French oak-inspired spice box note that carries through to a long and sophisticated finish. Blend: 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 3% Malbec.

(WS) In its second vintage on Red Mountain, Duckhorn produced a massive cabernet. The initial impression is that it’s so opaque, it won’t be able to get out of its own way. But after just ten minutes it starts to reveal its trajectory, a concentrated, powerful, black-fruited wine adorned with scents of lavender and rosemary – relentless, and yet completely in balance, and years from peak expression. It’s a cabernet to cellar and watch evolve for a decade.

(RP) Made by Brian Rudin and a beautiful wine anyway you look at it, the 2013 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon (there’s 9% Merlot and 3% Malbec) is a full-bodied, ripe, layered effort that has terrific notes of loamy earth, truffle, wild herbs and assorted black fruits. Aged 16 months in 40% new oak, from seven different parcels on Red Mountain, it has the fruit and texture to drink nicely today, but will cruise for a decade or more.

The Winery:  (From Wine.com) A coveted source of top quality red grapes among premier Washington producers, the Red Mountain AVA is actually the smallest appellation in the state. As its name might suggest, it is actually neither a mountain nor is it composed of red earth. Instead the appellation is an anticline of the Yakima fold belt, a series of geologic folds that define a number of viticultural regions in the surrounding area. It is on the eastern edge of Yakima Valley with slopes facing southwest towards the Yakima River, ideal for the ripening of grapes. The area’s springtime proliferation of cheatgrass, which has a reddish color, actually gives the area the name, “Red” Mountain.

Red Mountain produces some of the most mineral-driven, tannic and age-worthy red wines of Washington and there are a few reasons for this. It is just about the hottest appellation with normal growing season temperatures commonly reaching above 90F. The soil is particularly poor in nutrients and has a high pH, which results in significantly smaller berry sizes compared to varietal norms. The low juice to skin ratio in smaller berries combined with the strong, dry summer winds, leads to higher tannin levels in Red Mountain grapes.The most common red grape varieties here are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah, among others. Limited white varieties are grown, namely Sauvignon blanc. The reds of the area tend to express dark black and blue fruit, deep concentration, complex textures, high levels of tannins and as previously noted, have good aging capabilities.

To create wines that are as complex as they are captivating, Canvasback is following the model established decades ago by Duckhorn Vineyards, and will ultimately combine grapes from top growers with fruit from Canvasback’s own estate vineyard. The Canvasback team has already established great relationships with the growers who farm some of the appellation’s most esteemed vineyards, including Klipsun, La Coye, Shaw and Quintessence. In 2013, Canvasback put down roots on Red Mountain when it acquired a 20-acre unplanted vineyard site. Located near the top of the mountain, above the frost zone at an elevation of approximately 1,100 to 1,300 feet, the site was widely recognized as the most coveted uncultivated site of the mountain. Guided by Washington winegrowing legend and Canvasback vineyard manager Dick Boushey, and founding winemaker Brian Rudin, Canvasback began planting its Red Mountain vineyard predominantly to Cabernet Sauvignon in 2014.

In both the vineyard and winery, Brian embraces the challenge of making a richly compelling wine that shows the complexity and structure of great Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. “Red Mountain is one of the best places on earth to grow Cabernet,” says Brian. “The desert environment, with its long days, cold nights and mineral-rich soils produce epic Cabernet Sauvignons.”

Read more at: https://www.canvasbackwine.com/

2009 Januik, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley

 The Wine: The spring of 2009 was cooler and wetter than usual delaying bud break by a few weeks, but cool weather worries quickly subsided with the arrival of warm, dry weather in June. Temperatures continued to climb in July and stayed warm through August. Ideal weather conditions in September and into early October ripened grapes beautifully at a record pace resulting in a short, compressed harvest that wrapped up just before an unusual early fall freeze hit the Columbia Valley on October 10th.

After destemming and crushing, grapes were fermented on their skins for an average of eight days. After being pressed off, the wine was aged for 20 months in primarily new French Oak barrels to improve its already lengthy finish. Racking the wine every four months created pliant tannins and a bold, stylish structure.

This dense, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon is packed with cassis, blackberry, pomegranate and warm vanilla notes in the nose. The tannins are refined but still have texture. It lingers across the palate, imparting a long, polished finish that was developed in part from aging in new French oak barrels.

At first this wine seems quite astringent, closed and tight. It shows dark streaks of cassis and dried leaf, and it only reluctantly opens up to expand the black fruit flavor with a wash of Bourbon barrel.

89% Cab Sauv, 7% Merlot, 2% Cab Franc, 2% Malbec

The Winery: One of the advantages of having made wine in the Columbia Valley since the mid-1980s is the opportunity it’s given me to work with some of the most dedicated growers in the industry. Our Columbia Valley wines are made from a short list of vineyards I consider to be among the best in the state. The diversity of these vineyards-representing many of the most mature, carefully managed sites in Washington-provides for a full range of fruit expression that allows me to craft complex, multi-layered wines true to Columbia Valley terroir as well as the varietal character of the grapes. Our 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon includes grapes from Champoux, Klipsun, Red Mountain and Weinbau vineyards.

Read more at: https://www.noveltyhilljanuik.com/

CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 207 Summary of Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2009 Januik, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley

Best Buy: 2009 Januik, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley

 

 

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Tasting No. 206 – January 28, 2019 – Chilean Cabernets

Club del Vino

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Tasting Overview  

The  main objective of this tasting is to explore and assess Cabernet Sauvignon wines from Chile.

Type of Tasting: Blind

Wines presenters: Peter Lapera, Ricardo Zavaleta

These are the wines:

  1. 2018 Porta, Sauvignon Blanc, Central Valley
  2. 2014 Cousiño Macul, Antiguas Reservas, Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley
  3. 2016 Porta, Gran Reserva, Single Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley
  4. 2015 Gravas Rojas, Concha y Toro, Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alto, Alto Maipo

This is the menu: (Subject to change)

  1. Seafood Salad
  2. Cheese plate
  3. Cheese ravioli with meat sauce
  4. Grilled lamb and roasted potatoes with wine sauce
  5. Dessert/Coffee

Participants: 

Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada,Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Alberto Gómez, Jaime Jaramillo, Peter Lapera, Orlando Mason, Italo Mirkow, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, , Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Jairo Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, , Ricardo Santiago, Ricardo Zavaleta, German Zincke

Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from various internet sources) .

2018 Porta, Sauvignon Blanc, Central Valley

The Wine: Central Valley, Chile – Bright yellow in color, this Sauvignon Blanc hints to lively grapefruit and kiwi aromas, complemented with soft floral notes. The well-balanced and fruity palate features crisp acidity followed by a beautiful finish.

The Winery:  (From Wine Searcher) The Central Valley (El Valle Central) of Chile is one of the most important wine-producing areas in South America in terms of volume. It is also one of the largest wine regions, stretching from the Maipo Valley (just south of Santiago) to the southern end of the Maule Valley. This is a distance of almost 250 miles (400km) and covers a number of climate types. The Central Valley wine region is easily (and often) confused with the geological Central Valley, which runs north–south for more than 620 miles (1000km) between the Pacific Coastal Ranges and the lower Andes.

A wide variety of wine styles and quality can be found in this large area, from many different terroirs. They range from the fashionable (and relatively expensive) Bordeaux-style wines produced in northern Maipo, to the older, more-established vineyards of Maule; from the coastal plains of western Colchagua to the Andean foothills of Puente Alto. With experimentation so popular in the modern wine world, however, it is the newer, cooler-climate areas which are receiving most attention, with the emphasis on the Andean foothills and the river valleys tempered by the cooling effects of the Pacific Ocean.

The Central Valley is also home to a variety of grapesbut plantings are dominated by the internationally popular Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Chile’s ‘icon’ grape, Carmenère, is also of importance here, just as Malbec is to Mendoza, on the other side of the Andes. The cooler corners of the Central Valley are being increasingly developed, as winemakers experiment with varieties such as Viognier, Rieslingand even Gewurztraminer.

Read more at: http://www.vinaporta.cl/en

2014 Cousiño Macul, Antiguas Reservas, Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley

The Wine: Winemaker Notes Showcasing a dark ruby color, this wine offers intense fruit aromas of berry, delicate cocoa, fresh herbs and light toast followed on the palate by harmonious flavors of ripe black plums and blackberry fruit. Medium-bodied, this wine has a persistent and complex finish and a structure that allows it to be enjoyed now or left to age for up to a decade.

This wine can easily be paired with a great porterhouse steak to Penne Arrabiata.

The Winery:  ( From Wine Searcher) Viña Cousiño-Macul is a Chilean winery based in the Maipo Valley, just south of Santiago. It was founded in 1856 and is one of the only producers founded in this time that is still family-owned. Cousiño-Macul makes a wide range of varietal and blended wines from international grape varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Syrah.

Much of the estate’s production takes place in the Maipo Valley. The original vineyards are located in Macul, a commune east of Santiago. The calcareous soils here are well-suited to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot production, and Cousiño-Macul’s top Finis Terrae wines are made from grapes sourced from this site. However, Santiago’s urban sprawl limited the size of production and so in 1996 Cousiño-Macul acquired 300 hectares (750 acres) of land in Buin, in the Alto Maipo. Cousiño-Macul’s third vineyard is located in Alhué, a coastal area of the Maipo, and is planted primarily to Carmenere and Syrah.

In total, the estate’s three vineyards are planted to nine different red and white grape varieties, all of which are planted on their own rootstocks. These range from premium offerings to more value-driven wines.

Read more at: http://www.cousinomacul.com/en/

 2016 Porta, Gran Reserva, Single Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley

The Wine: This elegant wine balances strong character with softness. The bright fruit flavors are complimented by oak and notes of vanilla. Tannins are soft and silky in this full bodied wine.

The Winery: The Maipo Valley is Chile’s most famous wine region. Set in the country’s Central Valley, it is warm and quite dry, often necessitating the use of irrigation. Alluvial soils predominate but are supplemented with loam and clay.The climate in Maipo is best-suited for ripe, full-bodied reds like Cabernet Sauvignon (the region’s most widely planted grape), Merlot, Syrah and Carmenère, a Bordeaux variety that has found a successful home in Chile.White wines are also produced with great prosperity, especially near the cooler coast, include Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Read more at: http://www.vinaporta.cl/en

2015 Gravas Rojas, Concha y Toro, Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alto, Alto Maipo

The Wine: Aromas of baked blackberry are a touch earthy but mostly easy to process. This Cabernet feels solid but not overextracted. Malty, earthy flavors of baked berry fruits and cassis finish with coffee and mocha notes. Drink through 2021.

The Winery: (From Wine Searcher) Concha y Toro is the largest wine producer in South America, with more than 8700 hectares (21,500 acres) of vineyards spread throughout Chile’s major wine growing regions. The extensive portfolio is divided into several ranges, led by four flagship wines from different grape varieties. The Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon from Puente Alto in Maipo is one of Chile’s first icon wines, sourced from a stony, mineral-rich vineyard on river terraces. Meanwhile, Carmín de Peumo is one of the first super-premium Carmenere wines, from Peumo in the Rapel Valley. Gravas del Maipo is the company’s top Syrah, while Amelia is the flagship Chardonnay from vineyards in the Casablanca Valley.

The company also collaborates with the Baron Philippe de Rothschild company, owners of Mouton-Rothschild, to produce the Almaviva red. This is sourced from some of Concha y Toro’s best vineyards in Puente Alto and has been one of the most highly rated wines in Chile since its first release in 1996.

The estate was founded in 1883 by Don Melchor de Santiago Concha y Toro and his wife Emiliana Subercaseaux, with vines brought from Bordeaux. The current Marques de Casa Concha remains on the board of directors. In 2011 Concha y Toro bought the Californian portfolio of Brown-Forman, and thus owns brands including Fetzer, Bonterra, Jekel and Coldwater Creek.

Read more at: https://conchaytoro.com/en/

CV Members Rating – TBA

View full evaluation here: 206 Summary of Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2015 Gravas Rojas, Concha y Toro,
Puente Alto, Maipo

Best Buy: 2014 Cousiño Macul, Antiguas Reservas, Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley

 

 

 

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