Saturday night along with a few friends we popped some wines I've been looking to open.
Having been traveling and exploring Vermut (Vermouth from a tap) in Madrid, tasting wines in Spain - both Barcelona and Madrid - in wine bars and with meals, explored new wines from Portugal with Nelson Guerreiro and Iris Lorenzo in Lisbon as well as on my own there, plus of course time with Mark Williamson at Willi's Wine Bar and Tim Johnston at Juveniles, not to mention L'Entente - The British Brasserie, and at Millesime Bio with Sylvain Fadat and Désirée Alonso Sanchez plus L.A. wine pal Paul M. Young, the various conversations played in my head-largely surrounding the tremendous vintage 2016 was in France-especially the Rhone Valley as well as in Spain and to a large extent Portugal as well.
First up we popped two of the 2016 Rose wines from one of Tavel's top producers, Domaine de la Mordoree. We had the La Dame Rousse bottling first that was light, dry and lots of framboise and raspberry plus some mandarin orange flavors. The Rein des Bois is the big boy of the two Tavels and comes off more even, softer and silkier with brighter fruit and a slightly richer color. What I enjoy about these two wines are their craving for food. Unlike the lighter, more summer sipper style of many of the Provence rose wines, the pink wines from Tavel drive a more complete food and wine experience, and ironically paired nicely with some homemade bruschetta.
Next up were three reds-two from Washington State and one from the Rhone Valley. The 2013 Tempus Grenache from Yakima Valley was very much a southern Rhone style all Grenache wine. First a bit closed the red wine turned out to be a nice easy drinker, much in the style of a Vidal Fleury or Guigal CdR. It showed off deep strawberry and black raspberry fruit and as it opened became richer and a nice off the grill burger wine.
The second red of the night was the 2012 Emplacement Syrah from Walla Walla, WA. Boy do I enjoy Washington State wines. Given I have so many Central Coast Rhones from Doug Margerum, Ethan Lindquist as well as his dad Bob Lindquist in the cellar, especially nicely aging Syrahs from them as well as others, it's nice to venture further north and drink Syrah from a cooler climate. In many ways the drier part of Washington, out east by Spokane, Walla Walla and Richmond has a drier climate that western Washington state so Syrah tends to be more Northern Rhone in style. In the case of the Emplacement I kept comparing it to Cornas and Hermitage in my mind as I drank it. It had that brooding element of Cornas and the sexy, come hither style of Hermitage. Clearly this is a wine that requires deeper inspection.
Last was the 2015 Domaine Jaume Cotes du Rhone Red. This is a small producer whose wines I source out of the east coast for regular enjoyment drinking. They're a boutique producer, making very enjoyable wines that don't break the bank, and given the rising Euro vs. the dollar, finding outperformers like Jaume are an essential part of a well rounded buying strategy.
Let's face it, while the Gigondas and CdP's all rest and mature, and the Northern Rhones take their time to get ready, we have CdR's for the next 4-5 years to enjoy. Jaume makes a variety of CdR's under various bottlings. This one, is a lovely, fruit forward blend of Grenache, Syrah and I'm guessing some Cinsault. It's a non thinking wine with style and grace, and like so many of the 2015s very bright, with a long lingering finish and silky tannins. It has more going for it than most CdR's in it price range ($15 or less) and clearly was a favorite of the crew. The Grenache 70% - Syrah 20% - Mourvèdre 10% blend comes from parcels near Vinsobres. The Jaume family estate, not to be confused with the Alain Jaume Grand Veneur estate in CdP, spreads over 92 hectares at Vinsobres, a Côtes-du-Rhône Cru in the Drôme Provençale. The village nestles in the pre-alps, facing the majestic Mont Ventoux, in the northernmost part of the southern Rhone Valley. I'd be remiss to not mention their Cotes du Rhone white..a perfect cheese wine....