I continue to feel that 2015 and Rose wines will go down as one of the best vintage years around the world. Every 2015 Rose I've had from France and the USA which I've had the good fortune to open this year or taste on my travels continues to show me how good of a year the vintage is turning out to be.
Start with two Rose wines I had this weekend:
This is a wine made from all Pinot Noir. But, when you taste it, you think you're having a Rose from the Rhone or Provence. Lots of bright strawberry fruit, making me think first it was Grenache, then the deep berry and cherry flavors followed by a long lingering finish.
Part of my "Deep Cellar" philosophy involves being experimental and buying wines from up and coming wine regions long before they become too popular outside of their own communities. The Syncline Rose is one of those "experiments" in wine that is paying off. It's got the kind of pale pink salmon color that one attributes to Provence. A mis of Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault, the wine is full of strawberry fruit, some red melon flavor and spice. It has that bone dry style that I tend to appreciate, where the finish just lingers and the taste begs you to drink more.
My friendship with the staff and owners at Akasha and at AR Cucina has blossomed over the year since Thanksgiving night 2015. It truly is now "Moose of L.A." for me.
I guess being nice, sharing and caring pays off. What this has allowed me to do is something that only those with a "Deep Cellar" can do. That's try wines in a educational or thematic manner with the crew there and simply enjoy great, very healthy, well prepared food with friends all the time.
A few nights ago it was the wines of Charles Jouget. Two 2006 Chinons, Clos du Chene Vert and Clos de la Dioterie. Same Cabernet Franc grape, but totally different vineyards and flavor profiles. Both were yummy reds, with a very changing taste profile as the wines opened. I didn't have a clear favorite of the two, but I won't be tossing either wine to the curb.
A night later I started off dinner with my friend Amanda enjoying the 2015 Magellan Le Fruit Defendu Rose, IGP Cotes de Thongue made by friend Bruno Lafon as the all Cinsault Rose was just the right way to start the festive holiday season. This was followed by three very different, yet stunning reds. The 2009 Craggy Range Winery Te Muna Road Vineyard Pinot Noir stole the show early on. Big, ripe, powerful Pinot, and not one that was easily guessed to be Pinot.
Then came pal Sylvain Fadat's 2012 Les Servieres. Another wine made from all Cinsault, which happens to be found in my 2015 Comunicano Wine Company S5 --well three percent of the wine is. Cinsault is this magical grape that is more often blended into wines, both red and rose, but which adds a very unique flavor the wine, not quite cranberry, but not raspberry either, it just makes wines stand out. The Les Servieres does just that.
My favorite though was the 2009 Aphros Silenus a wine made in Portugal's Vinho Verde region of 100 percent Vinhão. This almost black-purple colored wine perhaps is one of Portugal's greatest red wines as it is made as smooth as any great Burgundy or Italian Barolo. Jam packed with berries and cherries, the red wine is a graceful wine that I can never get enough of.
Last night the wines of Michel Gassier were the theme. Two reds and two whites. The whites were from the 2010 vintage, while the reds were one 2009 and the the other 2010.
Talk about great value wines that have aged so, so well. All four of the wines were low to mid teens in price around release. The Gassier wines have become in my mind what the Guigal wines of the 80s were like. Fantastic values that well outperform other wines in the price range and regional nature.
The 2010 Costières de Nîmes Nostre Païs White blends 90 percent Grenache Blanc with 5 percent each of Roussanne and Viognier. It was as fresh as anything bottled in 2015. Hands down it was a runaway crowd pleaser as the bright spring flower bouquet nose, followed by loads of pears and peaches just lingered.
The 2010 Costières de Nîmes Lou Coucardié White is mostly Roussanne with some Viognier and Grenache Blanc shows the barrel fermentation as everyone got oak on the palate from the Roussanne. In some ways it was reminiscent of the Beaucaustel old vines Roussanne. But in others the wine was clearly more Languedoc Roussanne than Rhone. A good test of this wine I'd like to do is to pour it blind along with a Beaucaustel, a 1998 Chave Hermitage Blanc and the 2004 Roussanne from Qupe that pal Bob Lindquist (father of Ethan Lindquist) has in his cellar.
Then came the reds. The 2009 Costières de Nîmes Lou Coucardié Red is 60 percent Mourvedre with the balance being Grenache and Syrah in that order. It's big. It's bold. It spicy. It reminds me more of Pic St. Loup than Chateuneuf du Pape or Bandol as it has that ripe and deep blackberry fruit flavor, with strawberries and blueberries. It has none of the barnyard or farmyard aromas that Rhone and Bandol tends to toss of.
The 2010 Costières de Nîmes Nostre Païs is a charmer. This really brought me back to when I was buying and drinking 1983 and 1985 Guigal Cotes du Rhones with Jim Curl and Raymond E. Feist at Pirets in the 90s and as we progressed to Sunday football days and Saturday house parties. For under $15.00 this wine screams great value. The 2010 Costières de Nîmes Nostre Païs is a stunning example of great winemaking, serious selection of fruit and just a great bottle that you can pour for anyone, be they a wine expert or just a casual drinker.
Tonight for Xmas Eve -- the wines of Sparkman Cellars...come join.
Popped open the 2001 K Vintners Cougar Hills Syrah the other night with friends. Talk about an older wine that thinks it's young. This is clearly one of those that just wants to stay a baby for a long time.
At age 15 you would think this wine would be well past middle age and in the more in the graceful elder status. Not so. The Cougar Hills Syrah was big, bright and full of fruit. It showed so much life that even in the decanter for an hour or more it was still a massive wine, showing lots of fruit, with gentle tannins that were nicely integrated into the wine. If anything, this wine made from Eastern Washington fruit, tasted so much like a Southern Rhone as it had the bones and structure of a Gigondas, Rastau, Sablet or Vacqueyras, with big bones and lots of long, elegant fruit. At the same time there's a bit of Cornas style and flavor happening too.
Layer upon layer of blueberries, black pepper, black plums, licorice and star anise dominate the wine, with a light brush of herbs.
The 2001 K VGintners Cougar Hills Syrah cost $44.95 back in the early 2000's. It's a treat to still have in the cellar and a wine that has time....if you can keep your hands off of it.
I've been drinking the Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre blanc as far back as the late 80's as this as well as the Lucien Crochet La Croix du Roy and the Lucien Thomas Clos de La Crele Sancerre. These are three of the most consistent examples of Loire white wines made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape. The Reverdy is also a great wine to get newbies to understand that white wine doesn't have to be Chardonnay.
What I like though about the Hippolyte Reverdy wine is how aggressive importer Kermit Lynch is at making it available by the glass on lists of places like Wally's in Beverly Hills. On my last three visits it's been my starter white wine as it's crisp, fresh, has a combination of lemon zest, lime, limestone, a hint of almonds, and some grassy herbal flavors.
The wine has perfect balance, great length and is always a winner, and a perfect start to any meal. Paired with the Heirloom tomato salad, the wine is a sure pick as the acidity is crisp enough to stand up to the fruit and acid in the tomatoes.
I am hearing first hand reports on the high quality of the 2016 harvest in France from every corner of the country. Most recently, oenologue and wine consultant Phillipe Cambie share this on Facebook.
"2016 to châteauneuf du Pape, can we talk about vintage of the century? According to the former the vintage looks like 1990!!! Mythical!"
Earlier in the day, Jason Barrette, former Penfolds Winemaker, now International Winemaking Consultant and a close friend, revealed by phone to me that he's working with Chene Bleu on their wines this harvest telling me the "color and quality are excellent." When we discussed the harvest he was full of nothing but superlatives and praise for the richness and depth of the fruit and how high in quality the grapes are. His feeling was that there's something great this year and the wines are going to be something special. He was also full of praise for the 2009 Chene Bleu's which are now in market.....I agree.
Languedoc producer Sylvain Fadat of Montpeyroux's Domaine d'Aupilhac was as enthusiastic saying "2o16 will be one of my three best harvests EVER." He went on to say, while the yields are down 30 percent from last year, the quality and the color of the grapes are some of the best ever." I'm with Sylvain and two other producers tomorrow and will get more details on other parts of the Rhone and Roussillion then....until then..
i was delighted to open these two Spanish wines and really enjoyed them at the bar at Akasha with the GM, Mary and somm, Lisa. Both were as impressed with the duo, as I was, and candidly these were tremendous examples of wines that I could drink all the time.
The 2013 Adras Godello is a lemon, lime, crisp white wine that was killer with the Shrimp and Grits that were accompanied with roasted red peppers. The wine was smooth, and a perfect alternative to the usual white wine suspects, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The stony, mineral base provides a wonderful undercurrent to the citrus fruit flavors. It would also be a great clams and garlic or oyster wine. One of the high points of the wine was how well it paired with the Kale Caesar Salad which was spiked with garlic...YUM
The 2012 Adras Mencia was a stunner. Perhaps one of the best Spanish wines I have had in some time, it offered the kind of fruit that screams Thanksgiving Turkey, that has been tea smoked. Cherries, strawberries, raspberries, cassis and plums along with granite makes this wine so perfect for the hangar steak. Possessing a ripe fruit backbone, the Adras Mencia is a very soft wine and a wonderful alternative to Cotes du Rhone and Chianti.....
As the weather remains warm on the west coast, I continue to enjoy Rose wines as often as possible. What I've found over the summer months is that while the Cotes de Provence Rose's are great for sipping all by themselves, its the Rose wines from Tavel that have become my food friendly favorites.
And none is better than the 2015 Domaine de La Mordoree Tavel Dame Rousse Rose. The wine is perfect with everything from cheese to smoked meats to even a well dressed salad. The Grenache dominated wine has lots of fruit, gentle spices, just the right balance of crispness and fruit to make it a real charmer. It also has power. Last night I popped it and enjoyed it with a lightly charred Ono over a bead of green and red lettuces. Strawberry, raspberry and blueberry are the obvious flavors, but there's more to it. There's an underlying flavor chalky soil that gives it that crisp and dry quality.